Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Paper: "Persistent Personal Names for Globally Connected Mobile Devices"

Persistent Personal Names for Globally Connected Mobile Devices
Bryan Ford, Jacob Strauss, Chris Lesniewski-Laas, Sean Rhea, Frans Kaashoek, and Robert Morris, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


The Unmanaged Internet Architecture (UIA) provides zero-configuration connectivity among mobile devices through personal names. Users assign personal names through an ad hoc device introduction process requiring no central allocation. Once assigned, names bind securely to the global identities of their target devices independent of network location. Each user manages one namespace, shared among all the user's devices and always available on each device. Users can also name other users to share resources with trusted acquaintances. Devices with naming relationships automatically arrange connectivity when possible, both in ad hoc networks and using global infrastructure when available. A UIA prototype demonstrates these capabilities using optimistic replication for name resolution and group management and a routing algorithm exploiting the user's social network for connectivity.


Blogger Anthony Nicholson said...

Official scribe comments:

Persistent Personal Names for Globally Connected Mobile Devices
Bryan Ford, Jacob Strauss, Chris Lesniewski-Laas, Sean Rhea, Frans Kaashoek, and Robert Morris
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Currently, locating users' personal devices over the Internet is difficult. Local discovery protocols like Bonjour don't work over long distances, and requesting DNS names for all of one's devices is impractical at best. Bryan Ford argued that people should be able to name their devices in a personal fashion, and have global connectivity with each other's devices, without having to keep changing the way the devices locate each other. Their proposed solution is called UIA (Unmanaged Internet Architecture).

In UIA, users managed their own personal namespaces. When they acquire a new device (such as a phone, laptop, or camera) they assign a name to the device and "introduce" it to their existing devices. Each device has a unique endpoint identifier (EID), just a hash of its public key. All clients running UIA belong to an overlay that lets this namespace exist atop IP. Users assign short personal names to identify their friends. Other users' devices can then be named by the combination of friend name and device name. Devices then gossip to propagate their name records. Friendship is transitive, so if Alice knows Bob directly, and Bob knows Charlie, Alice can name Charlie's phone as Phone.Charlie.Bob. The authors have implemented UIA on Linux, Mac OS X, and the Nokia 770 tablet. A UIA name daemon and router run atop the TCP/IP stack in userspace, with some GUI controls as well. Bryan also showed an entertaining demo video that highlighted the easy of use of the UIA paradigm. Their code is available for download (in a rough state!) on their project webpage: http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/uia/

Mark Aiken from Microsoft Research asked how this system manages connectivity to devices that have moved while being communicated with. Bryan answered that in UIA's routing protocol, devices track other devices in their local social neighborhood, and then hope to find a few devices that are stable enough to be rendezvous points to disseminate current IP address information. These stationary nodes help bootstrap what is essentially a distributed DNS scheme. Another questioner asked if the authors had conducted any usability studies of their system. Bryan answered that they hadn't had any users outside their research group, no. Mahur Shah from HP noted that all the examples in the talk deal with devices that are fully owned by one user. He wondered how this would work for shared devices, in a family setting, for example. Bryan noted that they discuss this in the paper. Each physical device can have multiple endpoint identifiers (EIDs) and go by different names.

6:43 PM  

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