Username / Password : Request For Comments

RFC Number : 76

Title : Connection by name: User oriented protocol.

Network Working Group J. Bouknight
Request for Comments: 76 J. Madden
NIC 5180 G. Grossman
University of Illinois
28 October 1970

Connection-By-Name: User-Oriented Protocol

I. Introduction

Shortly after the first of the year, 1971, the Center for Advanced
Computation (CAC) at the University of Illinois will begin to use the
facilities of the ARPA network. We are the first of a small class of
network nodes whose chief characteristic is that the node is a port
to the network only. All computational power for these nodes will be
taken from other nodes on the network, ILLIAC IV for example.

An important characteristic of most of the users at our Center is a
lack of sophistication about data communication techniques and
practices. The user will eventually be in the majority of those
using the network from all nodes but the problem is ours, almost from
the start.

In our discussions with our prospective users of the network as we
designed our port facility, we found that the greatest confusion and
consternation arose over having to deal with network protocol at the
'nitty-gritty' level of sockets, links, etc. While most of them have
been acclimated to computer systems at the file and device-by-name
level where the software system handles details, here on the current
version of the network, the user handles all details.

Thus, we were compelled to seek a user level interface to network
protocol where all user protocol is handled symbolically with system
procedures making the translation into host-to-host protocol.

Currently, connections are established by exchange of known socket
numbers for the four loose ends of the connection. This requires
either that the user or process always know all socket numbers he
will use at his or other installations OR that his NCP (and/or
related software) remember them for him, allowing him to reference
them symbolically.

We propose a more general solution to the 'telephone book' approach
of obtaining socket numbers for user or processes. Only the host, at
each site, knows its socket number space at any given instant in time
as well as the status of the user or process to which a socket number

Bouknight, et al. [Page 1]

RFC 76 Connection-By-Name: User-Oriented Protocol October 1970

assigned. Additionally, most permanently assigned devices and/or
processes are known by standard mnemonic labels such as DSK (disk),
LP (line printer), CR (card reader), TECO (PDP-10 text editor), etc.
In most systems, all other communications are done through files or
pseudo files, known only to the user by their names and not by their
internal mechanism. In other words, most intrasystem communication
at the user level is by symbolic reference to both devices and

We propose facilities, by extension of the current protocol, that
will allow users to use the network on a connection-by-name basis as
they already do in their host system. In the remainder of this paper
we will present the suggested extensions to the current protocol and
give an example of its usage in a dialogue between a user at CAC,
controlling two processes; one at UTAH, and one at PAOLI (ILLIAC IV
construction site).

II. Proposed Extensions to Protocol

Let us define a class of syntax elements for use in our proposed
extensions to the protocol. (This syntax is expressed in the
metalanguage of the ALGOL-60 report.)

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