Dr. Rohit Khare

I am a graduate of Prof. Richard N. Taylor's software research group in the Department of Informatics at UC Irvine's School of Information and Computer Science. Depending upon how you count my leave of absence as co-founder of KnowNow with Adam Rifkin, it took me either four or six years to complete my dissertation, entitled Extending the REpresentational State Transfer Architectural Style for Decentralized Systems (also formatted for easier duplex printing). It was summarized in a 10-page SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper at ICSE-26 and an earlier ISR Tech Report)

Arguably the most important contribution of my research is the answer to the challenge posed on page xiv: I'm thrilled to be engaged to marry the wonderful Mme. Smruti Jayant Vidwans.

I've recently joined CommerceNet as Director of a new research lab; some of our team's thoughts are available on our blog, The Now Economy; our website for the zLab Center for Decentralization; and our Technical Reports.

Contributions of the Dissertation

Academically, however, the central insight of my work can be summarized by the injuction “Decentralization ≠ Distribution”, as shown in this summary quad chart. Basically, distributed systems are about letting multiple parties come to consensus on a single decision; decentralization requires permitting independent parties to make their own decisions.

Of course, permitting disagreement can descend into chaos; the hard part is managing the risk caused by disagreement. But manage them we must, since in the long-term, today's consensus-driven, client/server, central database architectural styles cannot cope with increasing network latency and the security threat of conflicting agencies.

The result is a sequel of sorts to Dr. Roy Fielding's pioneering work on the REpresentational State Transfer architectural style for the World Wide Web. Starting with the ordinary request/response style of interaction characteristic of today's Web, I attempted to shift from the classic ‘ACID’ transaction properties to our new ‘BASE’ measures of decentralization (Best-effort networking, Approximate estimates, Self-centered trust management, and Efficient encoding) by successively adding new features to REST. The final result was Asynchronous, Routed REST with Estimates and decentralized Decision functions (ARRESTED).

Perhaps the most practical stepping-stone along the way, though, was ARREST: adding publish/subscribe event notification to the Web. In retrospect, ARREST best described the open-source Mod_PubSub project that eventually grew into KnowNow. At the time, we called it the Two-Way Web, because it changed the one-way data flow, one-to-one topology, and one-shot unreliability of ordinary HTTP interaction.

Selected Articles on Application-Layer Protocols

I was a columnist for for IEEE Internet Computing, bentitled Seventh Heaven on application-layer message transfer protocols. These columns were about Telnet, FTP, SMTP, a memorial to Jon Postel and (NNTP), Gopher & HTTP, the APPLCORE protocol unification initiative, the not-invented here risks of the Wireless Application Protocol suite, and the a pair of columns on Internet-Scale Namespaces: Anatomy of a URI and What's in a Name? Trust, as well as pair on How <FORM> Functions and Transforming XForms.

Ultimately, this vision comes together as Application-Layer InterNetworking, an architectural style for integrating decentralized systems. Its primary avatar is a SOAP Router, as described in a presentation from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, SOAP Routing: The Missing Link, some corresponding raw notes, a few slides from ISR asking "Will Decentralization Drive Event-Based Architectures?", and a 1998 draft written jointly with Adam Rifkin, The Evolution of Internet-Scale Event Notification Services: Past, Present, and Future.


Rohit Khare is the Director of CommerceNet Labs, which is investigating decentralized electronic commerce. Prior to that, he founded KnowNow in 2000 based on his doctoral research at the Bren School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. There, he studied the development of application-layer Internet protocols and architectural styles for decentralized systems with Prof. Richard N. Taylor, for which he won an ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award and has been nominated for the ACM Distinguished Dissertation Award.

Dr. Khare's participation in Internet standards development with world-renowned technical teams at MCI's Internet Architecture group and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, where he focused on security and eCommerce issues, led him to found 4K Associates, a standards-strategy consultancy, as well as editing the World Wide Web Journal (W3J) for O'Reilly & Associates. Rohit received his B.S. in Economics and in Engineering and Applied Science with honors from Caltech in 1995 and his Master's and Ph.D. in Software Engineering from UC Irvine in 2000 and 2003, respectively.

His resume (PDF), a full curriculum vitæ and an old overview of his W3C activities are also available. He is also the RK in FoRK.




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