Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Network Algorithmics

In late 2004 George Varghese published an amazing book on the design and implementation of networking projects: Network Algorithmics

You won't find the boilerplate "this is IP, this is TCP, this is layer blah" crapola here. What makes this special is that it describes the way the industry really builds high end switches, routers, high end server software and an ever growing array of intelligent in-network appliances. The way that is really done, is very different than presented in a classic networking text book.

The material is not algorithms, rather it is a way of looking at things and breaking down abstraction barriers through techniques like zero copy, tag hinting, lazy evaluation, etc.. It makes the point that layers are how you describe protocols - not how you want to implement them. The world doesn't have to be all hardware or all software, this helps train your mind on how to write systems that harmonize them both by taking the time to really understand the architecture.

To me, this book is a fundamental bookshelf item. You don't hear it often mentioned with the likes of Stevens, Tanenbaum, and Cormen - but amongst folks in the know, it is always there. More folks ought to know.