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Stanford University Networking Seminar

Anirudh Sivaraman (MIT)
An Experimental Study of the Learnability of Congestion Control

12:15pm, Thursday, December 4 2014
Gates 104

About the Talk

When designing a distributed network protocol, typically it is infeasible to fully define the target network where the protocol is intended to be used. It is therefore natural to ask: How faithfully do protocol designers really need to understand the networks they design for? What are the important signals that endpoints should listen to? How can researchers gain confidence that systems that work well on well-characterized test networks during development will also perform adequately on real networks that are inevitably more complex, or future networks yet to be developed? Is there a tradeoff between the performance of a protocol and the breadth of its intended operating range of networks? What is the cost of playing fairly with cross-traffic that is governed by another protocol?

We examine these questions quantitatively in the context of congestion control, by using an automated protocol-design tool to approximate the best possible congestion-control scheme given imperfect prior knowledge about the network. We found only weak evidence of a tradeoff between operating range in link speeds and performance, even when the operating range was extended to cover a thousand-fold range of link speeds. We found that it may be acceptable to simplify some characteristics of the network—such as its topology—when modelling for design purposes. Some other features, such as the degree of multiplexing and the aggressiveness of contending endpoints, are important to capture in a model.

About the Speaker

Anirudh Sivaraman is a fifth year Phd student in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory working with Professor Hari Balakrishnan. He previously completed his Masters at MIT in 2012, and his BTech from IIT Madras in 2010. His research is broadly in the area of computer networks and his research interests include congestion control, network emulation, and network measurement.