Decentralized Internet Architectures: Opportunities & Challenges (2018)

Trinh Viet Doan, Dr. Vaibhav Bajpai

The Internet was initially designed to be decentralized, so that users could communicate with each other directly. However, over the last decade, the Internet has become more and more centralized: a few big companies are in charge of the majority of the Internet traffic and are therefore able to monitor and control communications over their services. As a result, there have been many efforts to re-decentralize the Internet in order to distribute the power of today’s Internet oligopolies across the network with the goal of giving control back to the users. Towards this goal, potential replacements and extensions for centralized Internet architectures are being developed to address novel demands of Internet services and applications (mobility, privacy, transparency, interactivity, sovereignty, ...).

In this seminar, we will explore such recent efforts in architectural designs and their underlying concepts. In particular, we will investigate the benefits these proposals can bring to existing Internet architectures as well as the key deployment challenges and issues of these solutions for the future.

Course requirements (recommended)

The participants should already be prepared by an undergraduate-level course on computer networks and networking protocols. Familiarity with networking tools used for performance evaluation and with network security may be beneficial, though not required.

Moodle page

To stay up to date with the latest course information, please refer to the course Moodle page (TBD).

Time and location


First lecture: TBD

Learning outcomes (study goals)

The topics covered in this seminar revolve around novel decentralized Internet architectures. The papers will give students the technical knowledge and understanding on the latest advancements in the field of emerging networking solutions. The participants will also learn how to critically read and discuss research papers. This will be achieved by reviewing papers individually, and actively participating in group discussions during the seminar presentations. Students will also have the opportunity to advance their soft skills through presentation and session moderation. Participants will learn how to act as a chair of a session. Presentations will involve learning to not only stay within time limits but also to appreciate the Q/A session.

Specifically, after the seminar, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the need for new Internet architectures and protocols.
  • Explain the technical details of the discussed proposals and architectures.
  • Discuss design principles and the performance of the presented solutions.
  • Understand the importance of (independent) peer reviews.
  • Present research in a concise way and within the allotted time (conference-style settings). 

Further Reading

Teaching and learning methods

  1. Written paper reviews before the presentation (40% of final grade)
  2. Weekly presentations during the semester (50% of final grade)
  3. Group discussions (10% of final grade)

Each participant covers a topic area by presenting 1-2 relevant papers during the seminar. Refer to our Seminar on Internet Measurements (2017) for some examples of student presentations. To ensure everybody has read the papers, the participants are required to hand in a review of the presented papers via HOTCRP following the provided review template. The answers to the review forms should be brief and concise. Refer to the Internet Measurement Conference (IMC) that made reviews for accepted papers public for the 2012 and 2013 programmes.

Paper allocations will be done on a best-effort basis, based on preferences (favourite 2-3 topics) solicited over email during the semester. A topic will be randomly assigned if no preference is sent. The first seminar course slot (TBD) will be used to set the agenda for the seminar.

Seminar Topics


Pre-course meeting