It is interesting that you cite Paul Baran since his work at RAND was
arguably the first to recommend a distributed network. The start of
the quasi myth that the Internet was developed to withstand a nuclear
attack. If my memory serves me correct that was Baran's assignment,
but it was not the driving force behind the creation of ARPANET the two
The point being from a structural stand point there is convincing
empirical evidence that the Internet is not a distributed network. It
is what physicists would call a small world or scale free network.
Most of this work has been done at the router and AS level. For
example the vast majority of routers have only a few connections, while
a small minority has the vast majority of conections. The applied side
of this I think I've posted about before, so please pardon the
redundancy, is that Internet as the AS and router level is very
resilent to random failures but highly susceptible to targeted
failures. This has become so predominant in the literature it has left
many folks asking questions along the lines of security. Just to give
you a brief flavor the finding have been from Barabasi's group at Notre
Dame in 2000, Cohen in Israel slightly later, and Callaway in 2001.
Similat findings have been found from a spatial perspective with a
group at BU's computer science department and the Notre Dame group as
This has led a scramble to come up with new Internet topology
generators - another laundry list of references and approaches - but
the reported security implications have had a bumpier road. Are all
these computer scientist and physicists wrong, I'm sure a good case
could be made against them, but it leaves several open questions.
There have been several good cases made for the resilence of the statas
quo and good arguments that there could be problems. The question is
how much of it is political. One side looking for problems they can
point fingers at in the name of homeland security and one side denying
any problem at all because it is a lot cheaper if there is no problem.