MIT-LCS / Students under NDAs...

Robert S. Thau (
Thu, 24 Jun 1999 23:54:30 -0400 (EDT)

Actually, the (possible?) conflict that bothered me most was one not
even mentioned explicitly in the article.

To summarize the situation, some undergrads were working for Akamai,
which does web caches. Prof. Kaashoek is involved in a startup which
also does web caches, and assigned the construction of
high-performance web caches in his systems course. The undergrads who
were working at Akamai couldn't complete the problem set without
violating their NDAs.

The article notes some speculation by Prof. Leighton (currently on
leave and full time at Akamai) that the problem set was assigned by
Prof. Kasshoek for the purpose of industrial espionage. Maybe, maybe

But suppose not. Even if this isn't industrial espionage, there's
still the possibility that Kaashoek is just using his class at the
university as unpaid R&D for his own web-caching startup. Would
anyone else have a problem with this?