Touch Named Director of Postel Center for Experimental Networking

March 13, 2001

Joseph D. Touch, Ph.D. is the first Director of the USC/ISI Jonathan B. Postel Center for Experimental Networking.

The announcement was made November 30 by Joseph Bannister, Ph.D., Director of the Computer Networks Division at the University of Southern Californiaís Information Sciences Institute and a longtime collaborator with Internet pioneer Dr. Postel. Bannister has served as interim director of the center since it opened April 20, 1999, six months after Postelís death October 16, 1998.

According to Bannister, Touch "will be responsible for the daily operations and long-range direction of the Postel Center. Specifically, he will set up the Centerís laboratory, work with industrial and individual sponsors, chair the scholar selection committees, and determine Center policy and direction."

Touch has been at ISI since 1992 and is currently a Project Leader and Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.S. from Cornell University, and his B.S. from the University of Scranton. He also held positions at Bellcore, GTE Labs, and SEI.

Touch's research interests are in virtual networks, network architecture, optical networks, and protocol performance. He also collaborated with Postel on a book chapter on network infrastructure and shared his interests in network technology policy and planning.

The Postel Center for Experimental Networking, established in 1999 to commemorate Jon Postel's contributions to the development of the Internet, has been generously funded by Cisco Systems, Centergate Research, and Sun Microsystems, as well as a number of private individuals.

The mission of the Center is to promote Jon Postelís tradition of applied research in service to the Internet community. The Center provides the facilities, funding, and support to host and support distinguished visiting scholars and graduate fellows to collaborate with ISI researchers in the spirit of this tradition. Further information on the Center is available at

Dr. Postel, a native of Altadena, Calif., was a leading figure in computer networking. He became interested in networking as a graduate student at UCLA, being one of the first to join a research project to build the ARPAnet, the ground-breaking packet-switching network that evolved into todayís Internet.

After earning B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at UCLA, Postel worked briefly at Mitre and SRI, moving in March 1977 to USCís Information Sciences Institute, where he was to spend the remaining 21 years of his career. At ISI, he progressed from researcher to division director.

His contributions to science and engineering were many and wide, including protocol design and verification, multimedia computing and communications, electronic commerce, the domain name system, and many specific Internet protocols.

In addition, Postel was widely known for the influence he exerted on the management of the Internet. Very early, he recognized that packet-switching research would need organization and a modicum of discipline if it were to realize its full potential as a universal communication medium. Postel began, and continued until his untimely death, the activities that eventually grew into the RFC Editor, which issues and controls the many documents that specify how Internet computers interoperate. He also initiated (circa 1981) the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the central coordination function for the global Internet.