Easily the most widely discussed paper in hallway conversations at this year’s SIGCOMM was this modeling paper:
The Evolution of Layered Protocol Stacks Leads to an Hourglass-Shaped Architecture, by Saamer Akhshabi and Constantine Dovrolis (Georgia Institute of Technology).
For those of you who enjoy controversy, or who are prepping for this year’s DWE exam, I think reading this paper is worth your time. Advocates for this paper thought that the topic is a fascinating one, and that trying to understand and model how an hourglass-shaped architecture arose is a worthwhile research line. Detractors said (I’m paraphrasing using family-friendly language) that not only does the model fail to reflect or approximate reality, but the nature of an endeavor where you know the answer (hourglass) and contrive to build a model that produces the answer is bad science.
We decided to take this paper at the PC meeting in spite of its warts, since we knew it would lead to intense discussion and debate, and, as Jeff and I wrote in our opening remarks as PC co-chairs: “… we hope we took enough risky papers to get at least some of you upset.” We succeeded!