"I am extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to work on the Internet over the course of my career. Looking forward, it is clear that the technologists are not the ones defining what the Internet will become," Clark said on the Oxford Internet Institute website. "It is thus especially gratifying to receive this award from an institution that is not centered in technology, but rather in the larger social and policy issues that are defining the future of the Internet."
Clark, who has worked at CSAIL since 1973, is best known for his role as the "father" of the Internet's end-to-end principle. This principle, outlined in a 1981 paper co-written with Jerome H. Saltzer and David P. Reed, states that wherever possible, communications protocol operations should be defined to occur at the end-points of a communications system.
Clark's role in shaping the Internet's basic technical architecture continued with his leadership of core Internet institutions. From 1981 to 1989, he acted as chief protocol architect and chaired the Internet Activities Board, which later became the Internet Architecture Board, the body charged with oversight of the technical and engineering development of the Internet.
"The lifetime awards are intended to honour individuals who have played a uniquely significant and long-lasting role in shaping the Internet," said OII Director William Dutton. "As a key architect of the Internet's incredibly robust and beautifully simple underlying principles, David Clark has played a significant role in ensuring the openness and durability of the network of networks that we enjoy today. I am delighted to recognize his achievements with this award."
Clark's current research looks at the redefinition of the architectural underpinnings of the Internet, and the relation of technology and architecture to economic, societal and policy considerations. He is past chairman of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies, and is co-director of the MIT Communications Futures Program, a project for industry collaboration and coordination along the communications value chain. In 1990, he was awarded the SIGCOMM Award in recognition of his major contributions to Internet protocol and architecture. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.