Internet Pioneers Cerf and Kahn to Receive ACM Turing Award
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), has named Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn the winners of the 2004
A.M. Turing Award, considered the "Nobel Prize of Computing," for pioneering work on the design and
implementation of the Internet's basic communications protocols. The Turing Award, first awarded in 1966, carries a $100,000
prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corporation. Cerf and Kahn developed TCP/IP, a format and procedure for
transmitting data that enables computers in diverse environments to communicate with each other. This computer networking protocol,
widely used in information technology for a variety of applications, allows networks to be joined into a network of networks now
known as the Internet.
ACM President David Patterson said the collaboration of Cerf and Kahn in defining the Internet architecture and its associated
protocols represents a cornerstone of the information technology field. "Their work has enabled the many rapid and accessible
applications on the Internet that we rely on today, including e-mail, the World Wide Web, Instant Messaging, Peer-to-Peer
transfers, and a wide range of collaboration and conferencing tools. These developments have helped make IT a critical component
across the industrial world," he said.
"The Turing Award is widely acknowledged as our industry's highest recognition of the scientists and engineers whose
innovations have fueled the digital revolution," said Intel's David Tennenhouse, Vice President in the Corporate
Technology Group and Director of Research. "This award also serves to encourage the next generation of technology pioneers to
deliver the ideas and inventions that will continue to drive our industry forward. As part of its long-standing support for
innovation and incubation, Intel is proud to sponsor this year's Turing Award. As a fellow DARPA alumnus, I am especially
pleased to congratulate this year's winners, who are outstanding role models, mentors and research collaborators to myself
and many others within the network research community."
In 1973, Cerf joined Kahn in a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now called DARPA) project to link three
independent networks into an integrated "network of networks." They sought to develop an open-architecture network
model for heterogeneous networks to communicate with each other independent of individual hardware and software configuration, with
sufficient flexibility and end-to-end reliability to overcome transmission failures and disparity among the participating networks.
Their collaboration led to the realization that a "gateway" (now known as a router) was needed between each
network to accommodate different interfaces and route packets of data. This meant designating host computers on a global Internet,
for which they introduced the notion of an Internet Protocol (IP) address.
As a graduate student at the University of California at Los Angeles, Cerf had contributed to a host-to-host protocol for
ARPA's fledgling packet-switching network known as ARPANET. Kahn, prior to his arrival at ARPA, led the architectural
development of the ARPANET packet switches while at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), and had showcased the ARPANET in 1972, at the
first International Conference on Computer Communications. ARPANET had already connected some 40 different computers and
demonstrated the world's first networked e-mail application.
In May 1974, they published a paper describing a new method of communication called Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to
route messages or packets of data. Like an envelope containing a letter, TCP broke serial streams of information into pieces,
enclosed these pieces in envelopes called "datagrams" marked with standardized "to and from" addresses, and
passed them through the underlying network to deliver them to host computers. Only the host computers would "open" the
envelope and read the contents.
This networking arrangement allowed for a three-way "handshake" that introduced distant and different computers to each
other and confirmed their readiness to communicate in a virtual space. In 1978, Cerf and several colleagues split the original
protocol into two parts, with TCP responsible for controlling and tracking the flow of data packets ("letters"), and IP
responsible for addressing and forwarding individual packets ("envelopes"). The new protocol, TCP/IP, has since become
the standard for all Internet communications.
Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn share a number of awards, including the 1991 ACM Software System Award, the 2001 Charles Stark Draper
Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award, and the 1997 National Medal of Technology from
President Bill Clinton. They are both the recipients of numerous honorary degrees. ACM will present the Turing Award at the annual
ACM Awards Banquet on June 11, 2005, in San Francisco, CA.
The A.M. Turing Award was named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and
limits of computing, and who was a key contributor to the Allied cryptanalysis of the German Enigma cipher during World War II.
Since its inception, the Turing Award has honored the computer scientists and engineers who created the systems and underlying
theoretical foundations that have propelled the information technology industry.
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New Administrative Structure for the IETF
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is well advanced in the process of making a significant change to the
administrative structure that supports the world's leading Internet standards development group. The creation of an IETF
Administrative Support Activity (IASA) is an important move designed to help the IETF maintain and expand the unique open
processes that have enabled the development of Internet standards since 1986.
The new structure will allow the IETF to take full responsibility for managing the resources required to accomplish its
work—giving the IETF a solid foundation on which future operations will be based.
This is the first time that all the IETF's administrative and support functions will be managed directly by the IETF as one fully
integrated entity. Until now, administration of the IETF has been carried out exclusively by helper organizations and volunteers.
The new IASA will be formally structured as an activity within the Internet Society (ISOC)—the organizational home
of the IETF—and an IASA Administrative Director (IAD) will be appointed to provide central management of IETF
The decision to move forward with the new structure was taken after extensive consultations with the Internet community. A number
of key prerequisites for efficient administrative operations were identified, including the need for the IETF to have budgetary
autonomy. The IETF is currently supported by funding from multiple sources, including meeting fees, donations from interested
corporate and non-corporate entities, and donations in kind of equipment or manpower. The IASA will allow the IETF to be able to
consider all sources of income, and all expenses involved in running the IETF, as pieces of one budget.
The IASA will also be responsible for defining clear contractual relationships with other organizations that will continue to
provide basic services, including meeting organization, secretarial services, IT services, etc. The new structure also gives the
IETF flexibility in how it chooses to fund and develop any additional services that may be required.
The IETF is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the
evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. It is open to any interested individual. See:
ISOC is a non-governmental international organization for global cooperation and coordination for the Internet and its
internetworking technologies and applications. Members comprise commercial companies, governmental agencies, foundations, and
individuals. ISOC has 82 Chapters in over 60 countries around the world. For more information see: