Workshop on Overcoming Measurement Barriers to Internet Research

In 2021, NSF funded WOMBIR, a virtual workshop focused on the identification of critical questions about the Internet that justify research, exploration of barriers to successful execution of that research, and collective activities that might facilitate that research.

Sponsored by:
National Science Foundation (NSF)

Principal Investigator: kc claffy

Funding source:  NSF CNS-2111828 Period of performance: January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021. (Funding depleted by end of April 2021)


Project Summary

A large part of computer science is the discovery and transition to practice of new concepts, advances in performance, and derivation of foundational principles. However, another essential part of the computer science agenda is to understand the behavior of large systems that arise from our earlier innovation. The Internet is the best example of a computer-science artifact so complex that its behavior cannot be derived from the specification of its components. One has to measure to see how it is behaving. For this reason, measurement needs to be an essential component of the portfolio of computer science research.

We propose to hold a virtual workshop focused on the identification of critical questions about the Internet that justify research, exploration of barriers to successful execution of that research, and collective activities that might facilitate that research. Long-term data collection and persistent infrastructure foster reproducibility and repeatability, robustness, and extensibility of research results. However, as in many fields, measurement and data sharing infrastructure is expensive to create, deploy, and maintain. We must find ways to nurture and support longitudinal data collection, but also weigh the cost of maintaining such infrastructure against the potential benefits of the generated data.

Another consideration for the workshop is whether there are critical questions that are relevant to the future of the Internet but not amenable to third-party measurement. If so, the research community may need new policies and institutions to support data collection and sharing, similar to other disciplines. Given this reality, what is the role of traditional NSF-funded academic research in advancing scientific study of the Internet?

The outcome of this workshop will be a public report summarizing our findings on challenge problems and the role that network measurement and data sharing and curation can have to enable new research.

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