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RADIA PERLMAN: THE MOTHER OF THE INTERNET

Updated: Feb 1

By Anjali Dubey

The Spanning Tree Protocol or the STP allows switched network environments to connect bridges and switches with multiple paths for data transmission redundancies without those redundancies causing a network loop, which can seriously degrade network service. Without STP, a single frame looping on an Ethernet network would create out of control data traffic that would prevent communications of all other data. While the credit for the invention of the internet does not go to a single person but is a collective effort of the most brilliant minds in the world, the algorithm for the STP was written in 1985 by Radia Perlman which rose her name in the hall of fame of women inventors and earned her the title of “The mother of the Internet”.

Born on 19th December,1951 in Virginia, United States, Radia Perlman obtained a B.S and M.S in Mathematics and a Ph.D in Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was given her first job as a part time programmer for the LOGO Lab at the then, MIT artificial intelligence library. While studying there she was among the 50 or so female students in a class of about 1000 students and due to the presence of only one women’s dorm at MIT moved into a mixed dorm when they were made co-ed.She later said that she was so used to the gender imbalance that it became normal.

She was one of the few women involved in the process of assembling the technology of what we know today as the internet.She has taught courses at Harvard, University of Washington and MIT and holds over 100 issued patents.She has also written several books and has been awarded numerous awards for her work.She was named 2004 Inventor of the Year by the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association and was listed as one of the 20 most influential people in information technology by Data Communications Magazine, in both its 20th and 25th anniversary editions.She recently invented the TRILL protocol and is currently employed at Dell EMC. Radia is an inspiration to all young women in this world. Despite studying in an institution that was predominantly male dominated at the time and being involved in a team that consisted mostly of men, she overcame all challenges and became a truly legendary figure in the history of technology as the “mother of the internet”.


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