Vinton Gray "Vint" Cerf (sɝf; born June 23, 1943) is an American computer scientist who is the "person most often called 'the father of the Internet'." His contributions have been recognized repeatedly, with honorary degrees and awards that include the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Cerf has worked for Google as its Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist since September 2005. In this role he has become well known for his predictions on how technology will affect future society, encompassing such areas as artificial intelligence, environmentalism, the advent of IPV6 and the transformation of the television industry and its delivery model.
Cerf's first job after obtaining his B.S. in Mathematics from Stanford University
was at IBM
, where he worked for less than two years as a systems engineer
. He left IBM to attend graduate school at UCLA
where he earned his master's degree
in 1970 and his PhD
in 1972. During his graduate student years, he studied under Professor Gerald Estrin
, worked in Professor Leonard Kleinrock
's data packet
networking group that connected the first two nodes of the predecessor to the Internet
), and "contributed to a host-to-host protocol" for the ARPANet. While at UCLA
, he also met Robert E. Kahn
, who was working on the ARPANet
hardware architecture. After receiving his doctorate, Cerf became an assistant professor
at Stanford University
from 1972-1976, where he "conducted research on packet network interconnection protocols and co-designed the DoD TCP/IP protocol suite with Kahn.
Cerf then moved to DARPA
in 1976, where he stayed until 1982.
As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982-1986, Cerf led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet. Cerf rejoined MCI in 1994 and served as Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy. In this role, he helped to guide corporate strategy development from a technical perspective. Previously, he served as MCI's senior vice president of Architecture and Technology, leading a team of architects and engineers to design advanced networking frameworks, including Internet-based solutions for delivering a combination of data, information, voice and video services for business and consumer use.
In 1997, Cerf joined the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University, a university for the education of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Cerf is hearing impaired.
Cerf joined the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 1999, and served until the end of 2007; he used to be the ICANN Chair.
Cerf is a member of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov's IT Advisory Council, a group created by Presidential Decree on March 8, 2002. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Eurasia Group, the political risk consultancy.
Cerf is also working on the Interplanetary Internet, together with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It will be a new standard to communicate from planet to planet, using radio/laser communications that are highly tolerant to signal degradation.
In February 2006, Cerf testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Hearing on “Network Neutrality”.
Cerf currently serves on the board of advisors of Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization focused on promoting sound science in American government.
In 2008 Cerf chaired the IDNAbis working group of the IETF.
Awards and honors
Cerf has received a number of honorary degrees, including doctorates, from the University of the Balearic Islands, ETH in Switzerland, Capitol College, Gettysburg College, George Mason University, University of Pisa, University of Rovira and Virgili (Tarragona, Spain), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Lulea (Sweden), University of Twente (Netherlands), Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Brooklyn Polytechnic, UPCT (University of Cartagena, Spain) and Royal Roads University (Canada)
Further awards include:
being awarded the St.St. Cyril and Methodius in the Coat of Arms Order]]
- Zero Text Length EOF Message (RFC 13, August 1969)
- IMP-IMP and HOST-HOST Control Links (RFC 18, September 1969)
- ASCII format for network interchange (RFC 20, October 1969)
- Host-host control message formats (RFC 22, October 1969)
- Data transfer protocols (RFC 163, May 1971)
- PARRY encounters the DOCTOR (RFC 439, January 1973)
- 'Twas the night before start-up (RFC 968, December 1985)
- Report of the second Ad Hoc Network Management Review Group, RFC 1109, August 1989
- Internet Activities Board, RFC 1120, September 1989
- Thoughts on the National Research and Education Network, RFC 1167, July 1990
- Networks, Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks, September, 1991
- Guidelines for Internet Measurement Activities, October 1991
- A VIEW FROM THE 21ST CENTURY, RFC 1607, April 1, 1994
- An Agreement between the Internet Society and Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the Matter of ONC RPC and XDR Protocols, RFC 1790, April 1995
- I REMEMBER IANA, RFC 2468, October 1998
- Memo from the Consortium for Slow Commotion Research (CSCR, RFC 1217, April 1 1999
- The Internet is for Everyone, RFC 3271, April 2002
- Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication (IEEE Transactions on Communications, May 1974)
- Vinton Cerf, Y. Dalal, C. Sunshine, Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program (RFC 675, December 1974)
- Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, Mail transition plan (RFC 771, September 1980)
- Vinton Cerf, K.L. Mills Explaining the role of GOSIP, RFC 1169, August 1990
- Clark, Chapin, Cerf, Braden, Hobby, Towards the Future Internet Architecture, RFC 1287, December 1991
- Vinton Cerf et al, A Strategic Plan for Deploying an Internet X.500 Directory Service, RFC 1430, February 1993
- Vinton Cerf & Bob Kahn, Al Gore and the Internet, 2000-09-28
- Vinton Cerf et al, Delay-Tolerant Networking Architecture (Informational Status), RFC 4838, April 2007
Notes and references
- Oral history interview with Vinton G. Cerf Charles Babbage Institute University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Cerf describes his involvement with the ARPA network, including his work for the Network Measurement Center at UCLA, and his relationships with Bolt Beranek and Newman, Robert Kahn, Lawrence Roberts, and the Network Working Group. Aso discusses development of the TCP/IP protocol, IPTO funding at Stanford University, his decision in 1976 to become a program manager for networking projects at IPTO, and the military use of IPTO networking projects.
- Vint Cerf video lecture "The Internet in 2035"
- Vint Cerf video interview on the evolution of the Internet
- Internet Pioneers - Vint Cerf
- ICANNWiki on Vint Cerf
- Vint Cerf on "Freedom of the Internet", 45 mins., official web stream of presentation for Hungarian "TV University", March 2007
- DeafLife features on Vint Cerf, November 1997
- Vint Cerf Frontier Visionary Interview with Frontier Journal
- Vint Cerf lecture "Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century" for the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists at City University London in April 2008.
- Vint Cerf on the future of the internet