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Named Data Networking: A New Internet

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As part of the Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program, the National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $8M grant to UCLA (and collaborating universities) for support of the Named Data Networking (NDN) project. NDN was one of four projects funded under the FIA program, whose goal is to help develop new ideas and innovations toward the development of a more robust, secure and reliable Internet.

In UCLA’s Computer Science Department, the NDN project is under the direction of Professor Lixia Zhang, whose experience with the design of the Internet is preeminent. Collaborating institutions are Colorado State University, Palo Alto Research Center, University of Arizona, University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign, UC Irvine, University of Memphis, UC San Diego, Washington University and Yale University.

While the Internet has far exceeded expectations, it has also stretched initial assumptions, often creating problems that challenge its underlying communication model. Users and applications operate in terms of content, making it increasingly limiting and difficult to conform to the IP's requirement to communicate by discovering and specifying location. To carry the Internet into the future, a conceptually simple yet transformational architectural shift is required—and that is what NDN is all about.

NDN capitalizes on the strengths—and addresses the weaknesses—of the Internet's current host-based, point-to-point communication architecture in order to naturally accommodate emerging patterns of communication.  The proposed architecture will move the Internet's communication paradigm from today's focus on "where" (i.e., addresses, servers, and hosts) to "what" (i.e., the content that users and applications care about). 

The current Internet secures the data container. NDN will secure the contents, a design choice that decouples trust in data from trust in hosts, enabling several radically scalable communication mechanisms such as automatic caching to optimize bandwidth. The project studies the technical challenges that must be addressed to validate NDN as a future Internet architecture—routing scalability, fast forwarding, trust models, network security, content protection and privacy, and fundamental communication theory.