Computer Science

Peter Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series: Internet Challenges

The final of four lectures on Facing the Data Mountain to be held on May 26, 2010
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Speaker: Dr Nevil Brownlee, Dept of Computer Science, The University of Auckland

When: Refreshments at 5.30pm, lecture starts at 6.00pm.
Where: University of Auckland Conference Centre, 22 Symonds St, Building/room 423-342
Video: streamed live

Associate Professor Brownlee has been working on computing at the University of Auckland for forty years, at first with the Computer Centre and lately in the Department of Computer Science. He has been interested in Internet Measurement for almost two decades, gathering, processing and analyzing the large volumes of data involved. His talk will explore some of the challenges facing the Internet in the near future arising from its growth.

Synopsis: Over the last twenty years the Internet has grown very rapidly and has become part of our everyday lives. Most Internet users assume that "it just works", while continuing to use it for a growing set of ever-more-demanding activities - from email to videconferencing. This growth has been accompanied by a tremendous growth in transmission speeds, computing power and accessible data, allowing most people to use it without knowing anything about how it works.

Can this continue indefinitely? I will discuss two technical challenges: how will we cope with the ever-increasing number of users (address allocation), and how are packets routed to any Internet destination (global routing)?

Next I'll discuss a non-technical issue: security and privacy in this age of spam, phishing, viruses and so on. Software vendors have become much better and finding and fixing vulnerabilities in our system, so this is no longer simply a technical problem. Internet users need to become more security-aware, so as to keep their Internet activity as safe as possible.

To sum up, "the Internet only just works" (Mark Handley, 2006). That's because human effort is brought to bear to cope with growth problems as they appear. It can certainly continue to grow for quite some time yet!





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