The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named Paul Mockapetris recipient of the 2019 ACM Software System Award for the development of the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS provides the worldwide distributed directory service that’s an essential component of the functionality of the global internet.
The award is granted to an institution or individual recognized for developing a software system that has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts. The Software System Award carries a prize of $35,000.
Mockapetris joined USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) in 1978, and while there developed the first Simple Mail Transfer Protocol email server, a method to transfer mail from one user to another. He held a number of positions at ISI, including director of the High Performance Computing and Communications Division (now called the Networking and Cybersecurity Division).
Throughout his career, Mockapetris made a significant impact on the development of the Internet through his research and contributions to the field. An inductee in the Internet Hall of Fame, Mockapetris is also renowned for his early work on distributed systems at UC Irvine and his leadership roles in networking startups.
At ISI, Mockapetris proposed DNS architecture and its first implementation back in 1983. DNS serves a foundation for dozens of applications, including email and web addresses. All Internet users depend on DNS every time they access a web URL or send an email message, because DNS translates the first part of the URL to the numeric address needed to locate the web page.
“DNS was invented at ISI by Mockapetris and his colleagues. Today it’s a central product of hundreds of companies and organizations — it’s part of everything from your local pizza store’s website to the infrastructure that sends every email,” said John Heidemann, principal scientist at ISI and DNS researcher. “The basic protocol Mockapetris established is still there, but even today, researchers at ISI explore and extend how DNS works to meet new challenges.”