Internet and Networked Systems


ISI’s Internet and Networked Systems Division, the founding research division of the Institute, traces its history to the earliest days of computer networking and the Internet. From its inception in 1972, the group’s researchers have provided key impetus to the advance of these world-changing technologies. Among their earliest contributions were core refinements to the Internet’s defining IP and TCP protocols, creation of the now-ubiquitous Domain Name System, and the seminal development of early packet voice communication – the forerunner of today’s ubiquitous streaming video, voice messaging, and Internet multimedia applications.

Today, the group carries out a broad program of research spanning computer networking, cybersecurity, and interaction between the cyber and physical worlds. Key areas of study include:

  • A unique experimental methodologies research program - “research on research” in the large-scale complex networked systems space. Our goal is to improve the research process itself across our focus areas, providing researchers nationally and world-wide with powerful new tools for experimental cybersecurity and networked systems research.
  • A cyber physical systems program focused on the Smart Grid and similar large-scale problem domains. Building on the key observation that energy, transportation, and similar physical-world networks share many properties with cyber networks, our research seeks to apply cyber-network principles to the creation of robust, resilient, real-world networked critical infrastructures for modern society.
  • A sensing and sensor-net program focused on “self sustaining sensing” – sensing networks for the physical world that operate autonomously, sustain themselves indefinitely, and function without human intervention. In applications ranging from oilfield monitoring to underwater environmental sensing, self-sustaining sensor nets transform both the capabilities and the economics of modern cyber-physical systems.
  • A networked systems cybersecurity portfolio centered on large-scale and system-level challenges. Focusing on current cybersecurity challenges facing the Internet, our research addresses topics ranging from distributed denial-of-service to usable security solutions for safe web browsing.
  • A world-recognized Internet measurement group. Our work in this area seeks to improve our fundamental ability to understand the Internet’s operation and evolution over time, deepening our comprehension of this remarkable artifact as it continues to evolve into a core structure of modern society.
  • New, “clean-break” initiatives in areas ranging from optical networking to software systems integrity. Here, our overriding goal is to “think different” – looking at established problems through new lights, with the aim of radically altering the capabilities or economics of the best known solution.

A defining element of our research philosophy is the leverage of powerful cross-couplings between research itself and the tools for performing it. Beyond pure research, we frequently design and build cutting-edge research infrastructure – as catalyst and enabler for our own work, as a transition path for our results, and as a service to the larger community. Our creation of DETERLab and involvement with AmLight are but two examples of this synergy.