To fund in perpetuity a laboratory to memorialize the life-long accomplishments of Dr. Jonathan B. Postel, internet pioneer. In order to reach this objective, the Information Sciences Institute of the University of Southern California (USC-ISI) must establish an endowment fund to generate sufficient annual operational revenues to accomplish meaningful research. Cisco Corporation has generously provided the seed money to inaugurate the Center. Additional contributions are needed to achieve a degree of funding which will sustain the Center at the necessary level of excellence.


Essentials of the Center

The Center will include the following elements:

Dedicated laboratory space for the conduct of experiments in networking at USC-ISI. The lab provides an environment where applied research could be conducted with leading edge equipment, software, and facilities

Visiting Scholar positions that would support a visiting scientist from industry, academia, or government. The recipient of the award would be a seasoned researcher who would take sabbatical leave from his/her employer to spend time on a research agenda of the recipient's choice.

Fellowship positions that would support an outstanding graduate student and be awarded annually. Fellowship recipients would be expected to perform work in conjunction with the visiting scholar's research agenda.

Staff positions to provide leadership/management of the Center and manpower to carry out sponsored research projects. Initially, management of the Center would be provided at ISI's expense.

A Center Advisory Board composed of leaders in the field of networking who will make recommendations to ISI's Executive Director concerning the research thrusts and operation of the Center, and who will also participate in the selection of Visiting Scholar and Fellowship positions. Said board members will receive reimbursement of expenses and no other compensation. The number of members on the board will reflect the size of the endowment. Any organization that funds a visiting scholar or a fellowship would have the right to nominate a Board member.

Nature of Research

To promote Dr. Postel's career-long commitment to applied research in Internet technologies, the Center will focus its activities on experimental-based research in networking and communications. The vision underlying this model is that the Center will attract a talented group of systems-oriented researchers who are adept at rapid prototyping and deployment of new technologies. The intent is to foster the research charter through specific goals set by the Center's stewards, while avoiding the exercise of a tight rein over the topics to be investigated by researchers affiliated with the Center. The research model to be applied will include a community of experts and students who pursue such topics as: protocol engineering; routing and forwarding; the development and integration of new link technologies; network-based services and applications; the development of tools to aid in the design, analysis, and testing of network protocols; network security; congestion control and avoidance; empirical measurement and traffic modeling; and network management. Center affiliates will be drawn from ISI and visiting staff. Collaboration among affiliates will be strongly encouraged.

Two key, interrelated elements of the Center's operating concept are Visiting Scholars and Fellowship students. The probability of attracting a top-notch Visiting Scholar will be enhanced substantially if the Center provides support to the visitor in the form of a well-qualified graduate student who can work closely with the visitor in pursuit of a challenging research topic. The fellowship's tenure of award will typically be for multiple years to attract the very best candidates, while the visitor's tenure of award will vary from six to 12 months. The visitor will also enjoy the full range of support offered to other ISI staff. Providing theses levels of support for the visitor is expected to be a powerful magnet for attracting high-quality Visiting Scholars.

Tightly coupled to the Center's research mission will be an educational function, the aim of which is to develop graduate students into experimental networking researchers. Affiliated researchers will therefore bear responsibility for initiating fellowship recipients in the practice of their craft. Training will usually be a one-on-one experience between the Visiting Scholar and the Fellow. Classroom teaching by the visitor will not be required, but visitors who wish to teach classes will be encouraged to do so, subject to approval by the USC School of Engineering. As a supplement to the fellowship recipient's classroom and laboratory training, it would be very desirable to offer summer internships at Cisco, in order to round out the Fellow's education and further strengthen the fellowship's commitment to experimental, applied networking.

Critical to the success of the Center is the availability of resources for conducting experiments. ISI would equip the Center with laboratory facilities needed to develop, demonstrate, and evaluate new networking systems. Additionally, ISI's rich infrastructure, which includes the Los Nettos Internet Service Provider, the Collaborative Advanced Internet Research Network (CAIRN) testbed, the CalREN 2 regional network, the Active Nets Backbone, and other advanced networks, will be available for use by the Center's staff. Complementing these testbeds and operational networks will be equipment for monitoring and measuring the performance and workloads of the networks. Because "virtual infrastructure," such as simulation environments and testing tools, are increasingly important to developing real systems that can scale to sizes much larger than todays deployed systems, it is essential to provide the Center with software that aids the experimentalist in designing and implementing new protocols and services. The Virtual Internet Testbed (VINT), an ns-based software simulator developed by ISI, the Multicast Internet Tester (MINT), a multicast testing tool under development at ISI, and the X-Bone, a system for automated virtual network deployment and management developed by ISI, are examples of "virtual infrastructure" that will be part of the Center's repertoire.

A final ingredient of the Center's research model is technology transfer. Supporters of the Center will be encouraged to adopt technologies, code, and inventions that are developed in the Center. ISI will provide research papers to supporters and host visitors from contributing organizations. In addition, ISI will conduct a symposium once a year to disseminate results of the laboratory's research program.

In conclusion, research to be conducted at the Center is characterized as follows:

  • Experimentally based research with an emphasis on developing and demonstrating working systems.
  • Rapid deployment of new technologies, especially Internet technologies.
  • Providing a rich environment of infrastructure, both physical and 'virtual'.
  • Promoting cross-fertilization of ideas by encouraging external researchers to spend time at the Center and providing them with the resources to make significant contributions.
  • The integration of research, training, and technology transfer.

Funding Sources

Cisco Systems will provide an enabling endowment to inaugurate the center. ISI will provide funds to pay facilities and other overhead costs, and to augment the research agenda. Other donors will be solicited to donate equipment, other in-kind gifts, and cash gifts to further the mission of the Center. If sufficient funds are provided by any one party or organization to fund a Chair, visiting Scholar, or fellowship, that party or organization will have the right to nominate someone to the Advisory Board and also to have their name included in the title of that position.

Use of Funds

Earnings from endowment funds will be used at the discretion of ISI's Executive Director in a manner that fulfills the intent of the donation and objectives of the Center. In general, the highest priority will be placed on spending the endowment earnings on fellowship recipients, the visiting scholar program, and other costs central to fulfilling the mission of the Center. Initially, ISI will provide funds to pay for facilities and related overhead expenses, thus assuring that the endowment funds are channeled primarily to compensation for researchers, and thereby directly supporting the mission of the Center. Because of the need to phase in the Center's financial resources, ISI's financial commitment will in all likelihood be greatest in the formative years of the Center. ISI will endeavor to keep the equipment and apparatus of the laboratory up-to-date and in excellent working order.




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