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Network Suffers Sudden Failures

By Alan J. Tabak, Crimson Staff Writer

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) network experienced unexpected downtimes yesterday, posing an inconvenience to students busily preparing for final projects.

The widespread outages resulted in the loss of the ability to log onto the internet for those connecting to the Harvard network from many Houses, libraries and computer labs across campus.

As of 6 p.m. last night, FAS Network Operations reported that they had fixed the cause of the problem—the failure of the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DCHP) service, which assigns the internet protocol addresses that allow users to connect to the internet.

Director of FAS Computer Services Franklin M. Steen said yesterday this was the first time the University had experienced this type of error with its DHCP server.

Some students said yesterday afternoon that they hoped that the network problems would be fixed quickly enough to confine the disruption to a mere nuisance rather than a disaster.

Alexander M. “Sasha” Rush ’07 said his final project for Freshman Seminar 22k, “Can Machines Think? The Turing Test and the Possibility of Natural-Language Interaction with Computers,” necessitated the use of Google, which Rush said he could not access for several hours. Rush said the project is due today.

“I was a little bit panicked when the network first went down,” Rush said. “But now that it’s working again [at 6:30 p.m.], I’m okay.”

Michael S. Hoffman ’06 said his final paper for Religion 1750, “Philosophy of Religion: Religious Epistemology” was reliant upon a source that could only be found over the internet. He said his frustrations mounted because he wanted to contact his professor about his problems, and he was unable to access his e-mail.

But Hoffman added that his connection to the network was restored at 7 p.m. last night, resolving the potential problem.

For those whose work did not depend on computing technology, such as Stephanie N. Kendall ’05, the network failure was less consequential.

“Maybe for other people it’s inconvenient, but I’m just reading a book,” Kendall said.

—Staff writer Alan J. Tabak can be reached at

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