Thursday, January23rd, 2003
Room 104, Gates Computer Science Building

Clarifying the Fundamentals of HTTP

Jeff Mogul
HP Labs

About the talk:

The simplicity of HTTP was a major factor in the success of the Web. However, as both the protocol and its uses have evolved, HTTP has grown complex. This complexity results in numerous problems, including confused implementors, interoperability failures, difficulty in extending the protocol, and a long specification without much documented rationale.

Many of the problems with HTTP can be traced to unfortunate choices about fundamental definitions and models. I will analyze the current (HTTP/1.1) protocol design, showing how it fails in certain cases, and how to improve these fundamentals. Some problems with HTTP can be fixed simply by adopting new models and terminology, allowing us to think more clearly about implementations and extensions. Other problems require explicit (but compatible) protocol changes.

Slides from the talk are available here.

About the speaker:

Jeffrey C. Mogul received an S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979, an M.S. from Stanford University in 1980, and his PhD from the Stanford University Computer Science Department in 1986. Dr. Mogul has been an active participant in the Internet community, and is the author or co-author of several Internet Standards; he contributed extensively to the HTTP/1.1 specification. From 1986 to 2002, he was a researcher at Digital's (and Compaq's) Western Research Laboratory, and is now at HP Labs, working on network and operating systems issues for large-scale computer systems, and on improving performance of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Jeff is a Fellow of the ACM, and a member of Sigma Xi and CPSR. He was Program Committee Chair for the Winter 1994 USENIX Technical Conference, the IEEE TCOS Sixth Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems, and the Second Workshop on Industrial Experiences with Systems Software.