Lessons from “A first-principles approach to understanding the Internet’s router-level topology”

David L. Alderson, John C. Doyle Caltech, Walter Willinger


Our main purpose for this editorial is to reiterate the main message that we tried to convey in our SIGCOMM’04 paper but that got largely lost in all the hype surrounding the use of scale-free net- work models throughout the sciences in the last two decades. That message was that because of (1) the Internet’s highly-engineered architecture, (2) a thorough understanding of its component tech- nologies, and (3) the availability of extensive (but typically noisy) measurements, this complex man-made system affords unique op- portunities to unambiguously resolve most claims about its prop- erties, structure, and functionality. In the process, we point out the fallacy of popular approaches that consider complex systems such as the Internet from the perspective of disorganized complexity and argue for renewed efforts and increased focus on advancing an “architecture first” view with its emphasis on studying the organized complexity of systems such as the Internet.

Download the full article