The Design and Evaluation of Advanced TCP-based Services over an Evolving Internet
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Performance evaluation continues to play an important role in network research. Two types of research efforts related to network performance evaluation are particularly noteworthy: (1) using performance evaluation to understand specific problems and to design better solutions, and (2) designing efficient performance evaluation methodologies. This thesis addresses several performance evaluation challenges, encompassing both categories of effort listed above, in building high-performance TCP-based network services in the context of overlay routing and peer-to-peer systems. With respect to the first type of research effort, this thesis addresses two issues related to the design of TCP-based network services: 1. Prediction of large transfer TCP throughput: Predicting the TCP throughput attainable on given paths is used for applications such as route selection in overlay routing. Based on a systematic measurement study, we evaluate the accuracy of two categories of TCP throughput prediction techniques. We then analyze the factors that affect the accuracy of each. 2. Congestion control and message loss in Gnutella peer-to-peer networks: We evaluate the congestion control mechanisms and message loss behavior in a real-world overlay network, the Gnutella system. The challenges for congestion control in such a network are analyzed, as are the design tradeoffs of alternative mechanisms. In order to study systems such as the above with details of the network, we build a scalable, extensible and portable packet-level simulator of peer-to-peer systems. The second part of the thesis, representing the second type of effort above, proposes two techniques to improve network simulation by exploiting the detailed knowledge of TCP: 1. Speed up network simulation by exploiting TCP steady-state predictability: We develop a technique that uses prediction to accurately summarize a series of packet events and, therefore, to save on processing cost while maintaining fidelity. Our technique integrates well with packet-level simulations and is more faithful in several respects than previous optimization techniques. 2. TCP workload generation under link load constraints: We develop an algorithm that generates traffic for a specific network configuration such that realistic and specific load conditions are obtained on user-specified links. At the same time, the algorithm minimizes the simulation memory requirement.