[e2e] Protocols breaking the end-to-end argument

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Fri Oct 23 10:52:57 PDT 2009

Sorry -  I figured everyone on this list knew the paper itself, since 
it's cited all over the place, so I was being a little bit terse.  
Anyway, one place you can get the original paper text is online at 
http://web.mit.edu/Saltzer/www/publications/endtoend/endtoend.pdf .

We also wrote a followup paper in the "active networks" era that tries 
to carefully explain how the same approach can be helpful in thinking 
about "active networks": 
(this was published in IEEE Networking, or some other IEEE pub, as I 
Some will remember that "active networking" was viewed as an idea that 
made the end-to-end argument "obsolete" - I personally think that that 
was a conclusion based on a misunderstanding about what we meant - and 
this second paper refines the point we made in the first paper.

Saltzer, Clark, and I have separately extended and adapted the original 
ideas.   Perhaps the most interesting recent idea is Dave Clark's 
unpublished talk and note which focuses on a "Trust-to-Trust principle" 
that I have urged him to write up.   I don't think it is published yet.

Dave and Marjorie Blumenthal have also written a paper on a range of 
areas where policy functions might best be done in the network.  I don't 
have a link to it, but here's a citation. M. Blumenthal, D. 
Clark,/Rethinking the Design of the Internet: The End-to-end Arguments 
vs. the Brave New World/, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, 
1(1):70-109, August 2001 .

I can't help adding: Of course there are lots of people who use the word 
"end-to-end" when they mean, for example, "TCP is perfect".  (I'm not 
one of them: I have about 40,000 complaints with TCP and IP, so it's 
especially galling to be accused of claiming that TCP is the best of all 
possible protocols - often as a straw man.  TCP's merely good enough, 
IMHO, to apply a different and older argument: if it ain't broke, don't 
fix it.  But by all means experiment with improvements and alternatives).

On 10/23/2009 12:08 PM, Dave CROCKER wrote:
> David,
> I'm asking to explore this carefully and inclusively.
> Since you are putting a reference forward, what is the citation to it?
> d/
> David P. Reed wrote:
>> I'd suggest reading the paper where it was originally defined.  Given 
>> that the three authors AND a crew of peer reviewers touched every 
>> word of the definition, it's pretty darned specific.
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