A Theory of Stability for Communications Networks

High-performance networks, such as ESnet, rely on advanced control-plane protocols such as RIP, OSPF, BGP, RSVP, and MPLS, to support efficient data packet forwarding over the network. Despite their extreme importance, these control-plane protocols are vulnerable to various forms of instability, such as delayed convergence, persistent route oscillations, thrashing, and deadlocks. The goal of this project is to develop a unified theoretical framework to understand and address these stability issues. Accordingly, a program of research will be developed, centering on the following objectives: (i) identify the different forms of instability that control-plane protocols may exhibit; (ii) determine the fundamental, theoretical causes of instability; (iii) estimate, using analysis and simulation, the likelihood of occurrence of instability phenomena in control-plane protocols as a function of network and protocol parameters; (iv) prevent instability in control-plane protocols, through the development of new algorithmic and graph-theoretic methodologies. The results of this research will have direct bearing on the design of robust and reliable control-plane protocols for UltraScience Net and other next-generation DOE networks.

Principal Investigator: David Starobinski
Sponsor: U.S. Department of Energy