Two ISI alumni elected to NAE

February 20, 2006

The National Academy of Engineering has named Danny Cohen and Paul V. Mockapetris as members, in large part for work done by them at the USC Information Sciences Institute.

Cohen and Mockapetris were among the 76 U.S. engineers who received the distinction in the NAE's latest election, announced February 10.

"The research that these two creative engineers did at ISI continues to reverberate in the world," said ISI Executive Director Herbert Schorr. "I'd like to join with their former colleagues here and others in congratulating them on this well-deserved recognition."

Both Cohen and Mockapetris are former directors of the ISI computer networks division and former colleagues of ISI Internet architect Jon Postel (1943-1998).

Cohen (left) was cited "for contributions to the advanced design, graphics, and real-time network protocols of computer systems." While at ISI, "he started and led several research projects, including Internet Concepts, realtime communication, realtime packet speech and packet video, ATOMIC, MOSIS, and FAST.

The USC/ISI ATOMIC LAN, based on Caltech Mosaic components, was developed under ARPA sponsorship by Cohen and his research group, was the research prototype of Myrinet, later developed by the Myricom company he left ISI to found," according to his biography on the Myricom website.

Mockapetris, now chairman and chief scientist, Nominum Inc., Redwood City, Calif received his recognition "for contributions to the Internet, including pioneering and standardizing the Domain Name System."

Mockapetris (right) joined ISI in 1978, and while there developed the first SMTP email server. He held a number of positions at ISI, including director of the computer networks division, then called the high performance computing and communications division. It was at ISI, in 1983, that Postel and Mockapetris invented the DNS system.

Postel asked Mockapetris to implement and develop the protocols for a distributed index of the Internet, then a fledgling community of only a few thousand computers.

Before the DNS, all publically listed computers on the Internet were listed in a single directory, in a file maintained by SRI. That file, edited biweekly, was becoming too large and too frequently out of date.

Mockapetris and Postel devised a system that automatically directed name lookup requests where they were supposed to go, creating a distributed database that could be managed locally, but accessed from anywhere.By 1986, Mockapetris' initial implementation of DNS was running on all of the Internet's root name servers.

In 2003, Mockapetris returned to ISI for a six-month appointment as an visiting scholar at the Postel Center, which was established in April 2000 to memorialize Postel.