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Gérard Le Lann, a pioneer of the Internet and distributed algorithms


A pioneer of the Internet and distributed algorithms, after CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) and Stanford University, Gérard Le Lann joined Iria/Inria where he has carried out most of his career.

A graduate in applied mathematics from the University of Toulouse, ENSEEIHT Toulouse (French engineering school in electrical engineering, electronics, computer science, hydraulics and telecommunications) engineer, then doctor in mathematics (computer science option) from the University of Rennes, Gérard Le Lann began his career at CERN in 1969, then joined Louis Pouzin at Iria (which has since become Inria) in 1972, to take part in the Cyclades pilot project and the Arpanet project. At the University of Rennes, he created the first team on computer networks. At Stanford University, following his simulation work on network protocols, he worked with Vinton Cerf on the design of TCP/IP protocols which have since been used for the transfer of data on the Internet.

On returning to Iria, in 1977 he published a seminal paper on fault-tolerant distributed algorithms. He was appointed director of research in 1978. During the 1980s, he published decisive research results on distributed databases and real-time systems which, in addition to scientific partnerships, brought about numerous cooperations with the world of industry and national (notably the DGA - French Ministry of Defence Procurement Agency) and supranational (in particular the ESA - European Space Agency) bodies. This was demonstrated by the use of the 'deterministic Ethernet' patent in the civilian and defence fields and a loan from DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) of three computers for three years in Rocquencourt, the first time in Europe by DEC. In addition to real-time distributed algorithms, his work then focused on proof-based system engineering and critical systems. Director of research emeritus since 2008, he is currently working on automated and communicating vehicular networks, for which he proposes cyberphysical solutions ensuring both safety (almost total absence of accidents) and cybersecurity (absence of cyberespionage and immunity from cyberattacks).

In 2012 he received the Willis Lamb prize from the French Académie des sciences.

Keywords: Gérard Le Lann Internet History of Inria History of Computing