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H2K2: The Shape of the Internet

In this talk, Adam O’Donnell (for some reason listed on the conference notes only as “Javaman”) addressed the popular myth that the internet structurally represents a entirely decentralized or even distributed system. This is of course, pretty far from the truth.

While many of the details were mathematical and dealt heavily in information theory (and thusly, I will spare you from posting them here), Adam suggested that the flow of network information on the internet is represented by at least a 99%/1% power relationship (where 99% of the network traffic is routed through the same 1% of the nodes). This of course has ramifications for a number of “big deal” topics in communications theory which deals with the net.

The management of these Tier 1 nodes is done in a inconsistent manner which is theoretically open to an attack which would cause major disruptions to internet traffic. (This is the flaw which lead L0pht hackers testifying before Congress a few years ago to boast that they could bring down the entire internet within 30 minutes.)

The talk suffered from some poor preparation (diagrams and formulae were scrawled on an overhead projector as he spoke, rather then having prepared and legible slides) but overall was one of the more interesting talks of the day. I’ll post some more notes later on, for now I’m exhausted.

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