Mary Jean Harrold Memorial - SCS Distinguished Lecture - Jennifer Rexford

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Mary Jean Harrold Memorial

Distinguished Lecture: Jennifer Rexford 


“Programming Abstractions for Software-Defined Networks”


Jennifer Rexford

Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering and the Chair of Computer Science

Princeton University


November 6, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

Reception to follow


Klaus Advanced Computing Building, 1116 East & West

Presented by:

The School of Computer Science



Modern computer networks perform a bewildering array of tasks, from routing and traffic monitoring, to access control and server load balancing. Yet, managing these networks is unnecessarily complicated and error-prone, due to a heterogeneous mix of devices (e.g., routers, switches, firewalls, and network-address translators) with closed and proprietary configuration interfaces. The emergence of Software Defined Networking (SDN) is poised to change all this by offering a clean and open interface between networking devices and the software that controls them. In particular, many commercial switches support the OpenFlow protocol, and a number of campus, data-center, and backbone networks have deployed the new technology.  Many example SDN applications (e.g., server load balancing, seamless virtual machine migration, traffic engineering, and energy-efficient networking) illustrate SDN’s potential to transform future networks.  Yet, while SDN makes it possible to program the network, it does not make it easy. Today’s OpenFlow controllers offer very low-level APIs that mimic the underlying switch hardware. To reach SDN’s full potential, we need to identify the right higher-level abstractions for creating (and composing) powerful applications. In the Frenetic project (www.frenetic-lang.org), we are designing simple and intuitive abstractions for programming SDNs, including ways to query network state, compose application modules, and update a distributed set of switches. These abstractions substantially lower the barrier for innovating inside the network.


This is joint work with the rest of the Frenetic team, including the research groups of Nate Foster (Cornell), Arjun Guha (UMass-Amherst), and David Walker (Princeton), as well as several graduate students and postdocs at Princeton.



Jennifer Rexford is the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering and the Chair of Computer Science at Princeton University.  Before joining Princeton in 2005, she worked for eight years at AT&T Labs--Research.  Jennifer received her BSE degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 1991, and her PhD degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Michigan in 1996.  She is co-author of the book "Web Protocols and Practice" (Addison-Wesley, May 2001). She served as the chair of ACM SIGCOMM from 2003 to 2007.  Jennifer was the 2004 winner of ACM's Grace Murray Hopper Award for outstanding young computer professional.  She is an ACM Fellow (2008), and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2013) and the National Academy of Engineering (2014).


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Birney Robert
  • Created: 10/30/2015
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 04/13/2017

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