Complex Problems

Margaret Wasserman mrw at
Mon Jan 6 21:21:03 CET 2003

>hi. let's ask a simple question:
>     do we think it is appropriate for the ietf to *begin* work on
>     complex problems?

The word "complex" is not well enough defined for me to be
sure we are talking about the same thing, but...

Yes.  I think that it makes sense for the IETF to begin work
on complex problems.

Maybe this also depends on what you mean by "the IETF"...

I don't think that it makes sense for the IETF as a whole
to begin work within a complex problem space, hold a BOF and
throw it open to work by a WG.  In fact, we should consider
whether it makes sense to have a problem-space-oriented
WGs at all.

I _do_ think that there are complex problems that the IETF should
work on, and I think that we should come up with some better
structure to begin/decompose those problems than our current
WG structure.  Once we have an architecture and a taxonomy, it
would make sense to charter WGs to work on a parts of a solution.

>the emphasis, of course, is on the word "begin".
>what i would like folks to consider is whether it is better for some other
>organization, e.g., the irtf, the w3c, an industry group, etc., to do the
>initial legwork, make the first set of mistakes, etc., and then come to 
>the ietf
>with an architecture and a taxonomy that allows us to do the 
>strategy which tends to work well for us...

Not all of these problems are, IMO, "research" problems.  Also,
I haven't noticed (in the spaces that I have been working, at
least) the IRTF coming out with the type of architecture/taxonomy
that you are talking about.

I don't care whether you call it the IETF, the IRTF or the
IATTR (Internet Architecture and Taxonomy Task Force), but I
_do_ think that we as a community need to determine a good
way to organize ourselves to attack the complex technical
problems facing the Internet, such as scalability and security.

I also think that we should continue to have activities that
document a common standard in an area that has already been
well-explored by the industry.  We've done some excellent work
in this area, and I think that the current WG structure works
very well for this sort of effort.


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