February 1, 2023

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Nate Foster wins most influential paper for a Network Programming Language

A 10 years in the past, computer system networks were being generally developed out of proprietary components and computer software components—controlled by vendors and as a result shut for innovation. As John Markoff famous in a New York Occasions write-up, laptop or computer programmers fearful about the damaging impression on more development in networking and started off to force for amplified programmability, open requirements, and open up-supply software platforms. In a comparable spirit, about the very same time, Nate Foster and fellow scientists began to style a community programming language to handle prevailing constraints in the rising industry of application-defined networking (SDN). A decade later on, their get the job done is staying celebrated as amongst the most influential in the area.

At this year’s Worldwide Convention on Purposeful Programming (ICFP 2021), the report that declared the community programming language—called Frenetic—at the 2011 assembly was feted as its “Most Influential Paper.” The direct writer of the paper, Nate Foster, is Affiliate Professor in the Office of Pc Science in the Ann S. Bowers College or university of Computing and Information and facts Science. In addition to a staff of scientists at Princeton, authors also include CS undergraduate alumnus, Alec Tale ’13, now a Google Senior Computer software Engineer, and CS Ph.D. alumnus, David Walker ’01, now a Professor of Computer system Science at Princeton University. 

The awards committee noted that “Frenetic: A Network Programming Language” was “the very first meeting paper in a highly influential line of work developing a bridge among programming languages and networking.” In their investigation, the authors of “Frenetic” attained various issues: they analyzed deficiencies in the condition of the art in languages for programming networks resolved these limitations in a new language design, and described its implementation and efficiency on a suite of microbenchmarks.

As the authors clarify, “modern networks offer a wide variety of interrelated services which includes routing, site visitors monitoring, load balancing, and accessibility regulate. Sad to say, the languages used to program today’s networks deficiency modern features—they are commonly described at the very low stage of abstraction equipped by the underlying components and they are unsuccessful to provide even rudimentary help for modular programming. As a outcome, network applications tend to be challenging, error-prone, and hard to sustain.” The Frenetic community programming language is their reply to these issues.

Frenetic is “a superior-amount language for programming dispersed collections of community switches.” In this way, Frenetic “provides a declarative query language for classifying and aggregating community site visitors as perfectly as a practical reactive combinator library for describing large-stage packet-forwarding insurance policies. Contrary to prior perform in this area, these constructs are—by design—fully compositional, which facilitates modular reasoning and allows code reuse.” Between other outcomes, Frenetic “provides an fascinating chance to enforce safety, reliability, and performance ensures employing language-based mostly procedures.”

As the award’s committee assessed the effects of the paper, it emphasised how “this paper inspired a mountain of observe-on perform by these authors and many others. The functional worth of bettering network programming, and this paper’s influence on subsequent developments in the state of the art, make it a deserving winner of the award.”

In the decade considering that “Frenetic,” Foster and his fellow scientists at Cornell, Princeton, and somewhere else have produced an complete “family” of high-stage languages for programming dispersed collections of community switches, including Pyretic and NetKAT.