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Radia Perlman

A software designer and network engineer, Radia Perlman earned a place in internet history for creating the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) which 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 2015 has written two books: Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols and Network Security: Private Communication in a Public World.

Radia Perlman, 2009
Full image
Radia Perlman, software designer and network engineer, 2009.
Date of Birth
January 1, 1951
Place of Birth
Portsmouth, Virginia

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Radia Perlman." (Viewed on February 20, 2019) <>.


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