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ICANN Office of the CTO (OCTO) Research Group

The overall goal of OCTO's Research group is to provide trusted information to the Internet community regarding the Internet's system of unique identifiers. The group engages actively with the DNS technology communities to identify issues that fall within ICANN's remit and will benefit from the focused attention our researchers can bring to bear on the issue. We also perform studies or analyze data to better understand the health and well-being of the DNS ecosystem.

Identifier Technologies Health Indicators (ITHI)

The scope of this ITHI initiative is all the Internet unique identifiers that ICANN helps coordinate, as outlined in the framework of the ICANN 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, to "improve the shared responsibility for upholding the security and stability of the DNS by strengthening DNS coordination in partnership with relevant stakeholders."

The goal of ITHI is to develop metrics to measure the health of the Internet's unique identifier system that ICANN helps coordinate. When those metrics are defined, ICANN measures and tracks them over a substantive period of time to help the community see the evolution of the state of the identifier technology.

Current Research Projects

The Research group is involved in several ongoing projects. These include:

  • Root server system traffic analysis
  • Study patterns of protocol improvements across the DNS registration system
  • Technical support for ICANN advisory committees
  • DNS software analysis around specific issues

The OCTO Document series is the repository for the reports, position papers, and other documents produced by the Research group, as well as other groups in OCTO.

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."