IAB Thoughts on the Role of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)
RFC 4440

Document Type RFC - Informational (March 2006; No errata)
Last updated 2015-10-14
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Network Working Group                                      S. Floyd, Ed.
Request for Comments: 4440                                V. Paxson, Ed.
Category: Informational                                     A. Falk, Ed.
                                                                     IAB
                                                              March 2006

  IAB Thoughts on the Role of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)

Status of This Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).

Abstract

   This document is an Internet Architecture Board (IAB) report on the
   role of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), both on its own and
   in relationship to the IETF.  This document evolved from a discussion
   within the IAB as part of a process of appointing a new chair of the
   IRTF.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................2
   2. The Relationship between the IRTF, the IAB, and the IETF ........2
      2.1. Differences between IRTF and IETF Groups ...................3
      2.2. Research Groups as Non-blocking Entities ...................3
   3. The Range of IRTF Groups ........................................4
   4. Issues for the Future ...........................................5
      4.1. IRTF Groups and Network Architecture .......................5
      4.2. The Relationship between the IETF and the IRTF .............6
      4.3. Relationships between the Research and Development
           Communities ................................................8
           4.3.1. What's in a Name:  On the Name `Research Group' .....8
      4.4. The RFC Track for IRTF Documents ...........................9
   5. Security Considerations .........................................9
   6. Acknowledgements ................................................9
   7. Normative References ...........................................10
   8. Informative References .........................................10

Floyd, et al.                Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 4440               IAB Thoughts on IRTF Role              March 2006

1.  Introduction

   As part of the process of appointing a new chair of the Internet
   Research Task Force (IRTF), the IAB considered the future role of the
   IRTF both on its own and in relationship to the IETF.  The IAB has
   expanded this discussion into this IAB report on the role of the
   IRTF, and circulated this document for wider community review.  (As
   one result of this discussion, Aaron Falk was appointed the new chair
   of the IRTF in March 2005.)

2.  The Relationship between the IRTF, the IAB, and the IETF

   Before 1989, the IAB (then called the Internet Activities Board)
   oversaw a number of task forces.  In 1989, organizational changes
   were made to coalesce these task forces into two groups, the IETF and
   the IRTF.  The IRTF was tasked to consider long-term research
   problems in the Internet, and the IETF was to concentrate on short-
   to medium-term engineering issues related to the Internet.  At this
   time, all of the task forces except the IETF were restructured as
   IRTF research groups.  For example, the End-to-End Task Force became
   the IRTF's End-to-End Research Group (E2ERG) and the Privacy &
   Security Task Force became the IRTF's Privacy & Security Research
   Group (PSRG) [IABWebPages] [RFC3160] [E2ERG].

   Much of the early participation in the IETF as well as in the IRTF
   was from the academic and research communities.  (We don't have a
   citation from this, but a look at the members of the IAB from the
   1980's and early 1990's shows IAB members from institutions such as
   MIT, UCLA, BBN, UCL, SDSC, and the like, while IAB members from the
   last few years were more likely to list their organizations at the
   time of service as Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, and
   Verisign [IABWebPages].  We expect that a study of authors of RFCs
   would show a similar trend over time, with fewer authors from the
   academic and research communities, and more authors from the
   commercial world.)  While the IRTF has continued to have significant
   participation from the academic and research communities, the IETF
   has focused on standards development and has become dominated by the
   needs of the commercial sector.

   The IRTF has generally focused on investigation into areas that are
   not considered sufficiently mature for IETF standardization, as well
   as investigation of areas that are not specifically the subject of
   standardization, but could guide future standards efforts.
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