News from the IRTF

By: Aaron Falk, IRTF Chair

Date: September 7, 2005

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The mission of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) is to promote research of importance to the evolution of the future Internet by creating focused, long-term and small Research Groups working on topics related to Internet protocols, applications, architecture and technology.

The Research Groups (RGs) work on topics related to Internet protocols, applications, architecture and technology. Research Groups are expected to have the stable long term (with respect to the lifetime of the Research Group) membership needed to promote the development of research collaboration and teamwork in exploring research issues. Participation is by individual contributors, rather than by representatives of organisations.

The IRTF is managed by the IRTF Chair in consultation with the Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG). The IRSG membership includes the IRTF Chair, the chairs of the various Research Groups and possibly other individuals (“members at large”) from the research community.

In addition to managing the Research Groups, the IRSG may from time to time hold topical workshops focusing on research areas of importance to the evolution of the Internet, or more general workshops to, for example, discuss research priorities from an Internet perspective.

The IRTF Research Groups guidelines and procedures are described more fully in RFC 2014 (BCP 8).

The relationship between the IRTF and the IETF is now much closer than in the past. Up until now RGs created by community initiatives were sometimes brought into the IETF. Today however, the initiative to start a Research Group often comes directly from the IETF. This is part of a new move to create RGs to work on specific problems that arise in the IETF.

It has also been suggested that the IRTF might produce some kind of new ‘referee publications’ to showcase initiatives for improving the Internet. In the area of simulation, for example, many papers have already been published and it would be useful to present and position their work and their conclusions in order to make comparisons between different papers and proposals easier. One possibility is to introduce IRTF “sanctions” to indicate the best ideas.

The IRTF is also working actively to reach out to the network research community to encourage participation in the IRTF RGs.

There are currently a number of hot topics being addressed in the IRTF:

  • a congestion control RG will be set up soon. Mark Handley gave a presentation during the IETF63 technical plenary on this subject.
  • a RG to work on transport models has been created (recommended ways to do simulation modelling to support advances in transport protocols).

Other RGs may be formed to focus on the following topics:

  • The IETF ALIEN BoF (privacy and anonymous identifiers) might be moved to the IRTF
  • Authentication of source IP addresses
  • IDN

For more information about the IRTF: