A System Theoretic Approach to Bandwidth Estimation

Computer Science – Networking and Internet Architecture

Scientific paper

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23 pages

Scientific paper

It is shown that bandwidth estimation in packet networks can be viewed in terms of min-plus linear system theory. The available bandwidth of a link or complete path is expressed in terms of a {\em service curve}, which is a function that appears in the network calculus to express the service available to a traffic flow. The service curve is estimated based on measurements of a sequence of probing packets or passive measurements of a sample path of arrivals. It is shown that existing bandwidth estimation methods can be derived in the min-plus algebra of the network calculus, thus providing further mathematical justification for these methods. Principal difficulties of estimating available bandwidth from measurement of network probes are related to potential non-linearities of the underlying network. When networks are viewed as systems that operate either in a linear or in a non-linear regime, it is argued that probing schemes extract the most information at a point when the network crosses from a linear to a non-linear regime. Experiments on the Emulab testbed at the University of Utah evaluate the robustness of the system theoretic interpretation of networks in practice. Multi-node experiments evaluate how well the convolution operation of the min-plus algebra provides estimates for the available bandwidth of a path from estimates of individual links.

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