Radia Perlman

b. January 1, 1951

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Radia Perlman until we are able to commission a full entry.

Radia Perlman, software designer and network engineer, 2009.

A software designer and network engineer, Radia Perlman earned a place in internet history for creating the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) that governs how information is sent between servers. Perlman earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD from MIT while doing research for course credits through the university’s artificial intelligence laboratory. There, in 1976, she created TORTIS, a child-friendly version of the LOGO programming language, which children as young as three could use to control a robot. She wrote the algorithm for STP in less than a week, capping her work by writing a playful poem to describe her invention. Over the course of her career, working at Novell, Digital, Sun, Intel, and EMC, she continued to fine-tune and eventually replace STP with improved systems that would allow larger networks of computers to communicate more smoothly. She holds over 100 patents, and as of 2024 has written two books, Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches (1999) and Internetworking Protocols and Network Security: Private Communication in a Public World (2015), and co-written Network Security: Private Communication in a Public World (2022). As of 2024, she has won eleven awards, including induction to the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2016) and an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology.  

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Radia Perlman." (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/perlman-radia>.