Preface

It has been nearly ten years since the 5th Edition of Computer Networks: A Systems Approach was published. Much has changed in that time, most notably, the explosion of the cloud and smartphone apps onto the scene. In many ways, this is reminiscent of the dramatic affect the Web was having on the Internet when we published the 1st Edition of the book in 1996.

The 6th Edition adapts to the times, but keeps the Systems Approach as its north star. In broad strokes, we updated this new edition in three main ways:

  • We refreshed the examples to reflect the current state of the world. This includes deleting anachronisms (e.g., dial-up modem), using popular applications (e.g., Netflix, Spotify) to motivate the problems being addressed, and updating the numbers to represent the state-of-the-art technology (e.g., 10-Gbps Ethernet).

  • We emphasize a historical perspective, connecting the dots between the original research that led to the development of technologies like multicast, real-time video streaming, and quality-of-service, and now-familar cloud applications like GoToMeeting, Netflix, and Spotify. This is in keeping with our emphasis on the design process and not just the end result, which is especially important today since so much the Internet is now available primarily in proprietary commercial products.

  • We place the Internet in the broader context of the Cloud, and just as importantly, in the context of the commerial forces that are shaping the Internet and Cloud. This has minimal impact on the technical details presented throughout the book, but it is discussed in a new Broader Perspective section at the end of each chapter. We hope one side-effect of this discussion is to foster an appreciation for the Internet's continuous evolution, and the opportunity for innovation it represents.

More specifically, the 6th Edition includes the following major changes:

  • New Section 1.6 introduces the recurring Cloudification theme.
  • New Section 2.8 describes the Access Network, including Passive Optical Networks (PON) and 5G's Radio Access Networks (RAN).
  • Section 3.4 updated to include descriptions of White-Box Switches and Software-Defined Networks (SDN).
  • New Section 3.5 describes VXLANs and the role of overlays in the Cloud.
  • New Section 4.5 describes how the Cloud impacts the Internet's structure.
  • Section 5.3 expanded to include a description of gRPC.
  • Sections 6.3 and 6.4 updated to include descriptions of TCP CUBIC, DCTCP, and BBR.
  • Section 6.4 expanded to include a description of Active Queue Management (AQM).
  • Section 7.1 expanded to include a desciption of Protocol Buffers.
  • Section 7.2 expanded to include a desciption of HTTP Adaptive Streaming.
  • New Section 8.1 introduces the duality of Threats and Trust.
  • New Section 8.6 describes Decentralized Identity Management and the role of Blockchains.
  • Section 9.1 updated to include a description of HTTP/2, along with a discussion of REST, gRPC, and Cloud Services.
  • Section 9.3 expaned to include a description of modern Network Management Systems including the use of OpenConfig and gNMI.

We would like to acknowledge the following people for their help with new content:

  • Larry Brakmo: TCP Congestion Control
  • Carmelo Cascone: White-Box Switches
  • Charles Chan: White-Box Switches
  • Jude Nelson: Decentralized Identity
  • Oguz Sunay: Cellular Networks
  • Thomas Vachuska: Network Management

And the following individuals (github users) for their various contributions:

  • Mohammed Al-Ameen
  • Andy Bavier
  • Manuel Berfelde
  • Chris Goldsworthy
  • John Hartman
  • Diego López León
  • Matteo Scandolo
  • Mike Wawrzoniak
  • 罗泽轩 (spacewander)
  • Arnaud (arvdrpoo)
  • Desmond (kingdido999)
  • Guo (ZJUGuoShuai)
  • Hellman (eshellman)
  • Xtao (vertextao)

Larry & Bruce
August 2019

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