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Electronic mail

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We all use email, but have you ever wondered how it actually works? In this talk we shall explore what happens after you press “Send”: the journey of an email, including why we use multiple intermediate mail servers and what happens at each hop, before focusing on SMTP and IMAP4 . I shall also be answering the question of what an email actually is, by discussing the changing standards for the Internet Message Format and seeing how the current format is restricted by legacy systems. Lastly, I shall give an overview of the development and current state of our University‚Äôs email system: this will include overhauls from the past, their simple but effective approach to load balancing and failure recovery, a comparison with other Universities and, finally, the worrying prospect of the death of Hermes.

This talk is part of the Churchill CompSci Talks series.

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