On The Hourglass Model, The End-to-End Principle and Deployment Scalability

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Beck, Micah
preprint description
The hourglass model is a widely used as a means of describing the design of the Internet, and can be found in the introduction of many modern textbooks. It arguably also applies to the design of other successful spanning layers, notably the Unix operating system kernel interface, meaning the primitive system calls and the interactions between user processes and the kernel. The impressive success of the Internet has led to a wider interest in using the hourglass model in other layered systems, with the goal of achieving similar results. However, application of the hourglass model has often led to controversy, perhaps in part because the language in which it has been expressed has been informal, and arguments for its validity have not been precise. Making a start on formalizing such an argument is the goal of this paper.