Micah Beck

Min Kao Building, Room 433
1520 Middle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-225

Email: mbeck at utk.edu
Office: (865) 974-3548
Fax: (865) 974-5483

My vita.
Associate Professor
Dept. of Electrical Eng. and Computer Sci.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Datagram Forwarding Considered Harmful

Unstructured conditional branching is an operationally sufficient mechanism to write any program, and places no constraints on the flow of control. Similarly, datagram routing is an operationally sufficient mechanism to implement wide are networking, and places few constraints on the flow of information.

Computer Science long ago moved past reliance on unstructured programming. Is it time to reevaluate our reliance on unstructured networking?

Datagram Forwarding Considered Harmful

Was the Internet A Mistake?

In 2021 a group of 18 emminent network researchers put their names on a white paper, the topic of which was how to add new services to the public Internet. The approach they championed made this fundamental assumption:
    "... we should focus on what other services the Internet should offer besides packet delivery, and those services should be deployed on top of packet delivery."
It would be hard to find a less controversial assumption these days. Yet in this response I argue that the Internet architecture's choice of global datagram forwarding as its defining common service may be making extensability impossible.

Prisoners Of Our Own Device

Does ChatGPT Have Something Up It's Sleave?

Let's apply information theory to generative AI. My hypothesis is that LLMs like ChatGPT contain within their data structures the information equivalent of a (possibly compressed) version of portions of their training sets. I'm not saying that there is a bitwise copy of any particular portion of the training set. Just that the information content of the parts of the the training set on which there is statistical agreement is present in some form.


The recent paper described here addresses the issue of memorization in LLMs, but only through the mechanism of provoking the chat interface to regurgitate portions of the training data. This does not give insight into whether there may be much more of the information content of the training data encoded within the LLM data structure. To understand this would require actually analyzing the data structure rather than just trying to provoke regurgitation.

Extracting Training Data from ChatGPT

How We Ruined The Internet

In this paper we examine an assumption that underpinned the development of the Internet architecture, namely that a loosely synchronous point-to-point datagram delivery service could adequately meet the needs of all network applications, including those which deliver content and services to a mass audience at global scale. We examine how the inability of the Networking community to provide a public and affordable mechanism to support such asynchronous point-to-multipoint applications led to the development of private overlay infrastructure, namely CDNs and Cloud networks, whose architecture stands at odds with the Open Data Networking goals of the early Internet advocates. We argue that the contradiction between those initial goals and the monopolistic commercial imperatives of hypergiant overlay infrastructure operators is an important reason for the apparent contradiction posed by the negative impact of their most profitable applications (e.g., social media) and strategies (e.g., targeted advertisement).

How We Ruined The Internet
Micah Beck, Terry Moore
arXiv:2209.03482306.01101, June 2023
Submitted to Communications of the ACM

Breaking Up A Digital Monopoly

The dominating power of today's global data monopolies - most prominently Google, Facebook, and Amazon - has alarmed people around the world. Governments have been moved to seek ways to rein in such monopolies and establish reasonable conditions for competition in the services they offer. Their business models (e.g., targeted advertising) also raise major issues of personal security and privacy, so measures that control their tendencies toward monopoly may also help to address the threats they pose to civil and political liberties. We propose a regulatory strategy that addresses the naturally monopolistic nature of these services by isolating the core acquired data collection and management functions. Acquired data is derived from the discourse of society at large and so the public retains a legitimate ownership interest in it. Our proposal requires companies to compete by innovation rather than through monopolistic control over data.

Breaking Up A Digital Monopoly
Micah Beck and Terry Moore
Communications of the ACM, June 2023, Vol. 66 No. 6, Pages 38-41.

News & Information

How do you pass a test on a computer if you've never used a computer before?"
To get into university, Nigerian students must take an entrance test. Since 2015, this test has been computer-based, locking out hundreds of thousands of rural and urban students who have never used computers in school or at home. A group of volunteers is trying to bring some of those candidates back.

Abdullahi D. Hassan in The Continent Issue 157, 13 April 2024.

The Hedge Podcast Episode 150: Universal Broadband

A discussion of whether a less synchronous form of broadband connectivity be more cheaply and easily deployed to the entire world.


Recent Publications

Is Universal Broadband Service Impossible?
Micah Beck, Terry Moore
IEEE 19th International Conference on Mobile Ad Hoc and Smart Systems (MASS 2022). Denver, CO. Oct 19-21, 2022.

Compact unary coding for bosonic states as efficient as conventional binary encoding for fermionic states
Hatem Barghathi, Caleb Usadi, Micah Beck, and Adrian Del Maestro
Physiscs Review B 105 - L121116, 29 March 2022

Deployment Scalability in Exposed Buffer Processing
Micah Beck
17th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Smart Systems (MASS 2020)
Delhi NCR, India, December 10-13, 2020 (Virtual conference)

IEEE MASS 2020 presentation, December 2020

"On The Hourglass Model"
Micah Beck
Communications of the ACM, July 2019, Vol. 62 No. 7, Pages 48-57.

Communications of the ACM, July 2019

"Interoperable Convergence of Storage, Networking and Computation"
Micah Beck, Terry Moore, Piotr Luszczek, Anthony Danalis
Future of Information and Communication Conference, 14-15 March 2019, San Francisco.

"Data Logistics: Toolkit and Applications"
Micah Beck, Nancy French, Ezra Kissel, Terry Moore, Martin Swany
GOODTECHS 2019 - 5th EAI International Conference on Smart Objects and Technologies for Social Good, 9/25-27/2019, Valencia.

White Papers and Presentations

Exposed Buffer Architecture
Micah Beck
arXiv:2209.03488, September 2022

Universal Digital Services Through Basic Broadband
Micah Beck, Terry Moore
arXiv:2107.12269, July 2021

Cybercosm: New Foundations for a Converged Science Data Ecosystem
Mark Asch, FranMark-ois Bodin, Micah Beck, Terry Moore, Michela Taufer, Jean-Pierre Vilotte
arXiv:2105.10680, June 2021

The Programmable Network Stack
Micah Beck
White paper included in US-Japan Workshop on Programmable Networking
November 16-19, 2020

Exposed Buffer Architecture for Continuum Convergence
Micah Beck & Terry Moore
arXiv:2008.00989, Aug 2020

A discussion on LinkedIn

The Hedge Podcast Episode 27: New directions in network and computing systems
On this episode of the Hedge, Micah Beck joins us to discuss a paper he wrote recently considering a new model of compute, storage, and networking.


Clark's "Funnel" Reconsidered
Micah Beck & Terry Moore
White paper included in the report of the FABRIC Community Visioning Workshop
April 15 & 16, 2020, Chicago IL

Location, Location, Location: The Exposed Buffer Approach to Problems of Data Logistics
Micah Beck & Martin D. Swany
White paper presented at the Large Scale Networking (LSN) Workshop on Huge Data
April 13 & 14, 2020, Chicago IL

"Pervasively Distributed CyberInfrastructure for Yottascale Data Ecosystems"
Micah Beck, Terry Moore
Presented at ASPLOS 2018 Workshop on Inter-displinary Research Challenges in Computer Systems, 3/24-25/2018.

"In Case of Rapture, Can I Have Your Data?"
Micah Beck, talk presented at DLF Forum 2017, 3/23-25/2017.

Some Past Projects

The Sea Squirt

So, yes, in common parlance, the sea squirt eats its own brain such as it is. But since the sea squirt no longer needs its brain to help it swim around or to see, this this isn't a great loss to the creature. It needs to use this now superfluous body material to help develop its digestive, reproductive, and circulatory organs.


Classes Recently Taught

Spring 2024

Fall 2023

Fall 2022

Spring 2022