Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Worthwhile Objectives

The paper, 'The Design Philosophy of the DARPA Internet Protocols', by David Clark is interesting to me, in part because it wasn't written years earlier. DARPA began developing what we now recognize as the internet, 15 years before this paper was written. The reason for the paper is to explain the goals of DARPA's 'internet' research project, or rather the author's view of those goals.

How is that possible, that the goals of a research project of such magnitude were not recorded earlier? He doesn't address that question. It is a bit unbelievable to me. Today, about 22 years later, we are starting out a graduate course by studying this paper. That is evidence to me of the importance of clearly understanding goals, or objectives.

I suppose that to push research forward, we will need to identify worthwhile objectives. Which objectives are most worthwhile? Thinking about the internet, the top level objective was to interconnect existing networks. Such an objective certainly was worthwhile, or at least has had great impact on the world. As part of this class I would like to understand which objectives are being pursued and which might prove most worthwhile.

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