Using Internet Geometry to Improve End-to-End Communication Performance

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The Internet has been designed as a best-effort communication medium between its users, providing connectivity but optimizing little else. It does not guarantee good paths between two users: packets may take longer or more congested routes than necessary, they may be delayed by slow reaction to failures, there may even be no path between users. To obtain better paths, users can form routing overlay networks, which improve the performance of packet delivery by forwarding packets along links in self-constructed graphs. Routing overlays delegate the task of

selecting paths to users, who can choose among a diversity of routes which are more reliable, less loaded, shorter or have higher bandwidth than those chosen by the underlying infrastructure.

Although they offer improved communication performance, existing routing overlay networks are neither scalable nor fair: the cost of measuring and computing path performance metrics between participants is high (which limits the number of participants) and they lack robustness to misbehavior and selfishness (which could discourage the participation of nodes that are more likely to offer than to receive service).

In this dissertation, I focus on finding low-latency paths using routing overlay networks. I support the following thesis: it is possible to make end-to-end communication between Internet users simultaneously faster, scalable, and fair, by relying solely on inherent properties of the Internet latency space. To prove this thesis, I take two complementary approaches. First, I perform an extensive measurement study in which I analyze, using real latency data sets, properties of the Internet latency space: the existence of triangle inequality violations (TIVs) (which expose detour paths: ''indirect'' one-hop paths that have lower round-trip latency than the ''direct'' default paths), the interaction between TIVs and network coordinate systems (which leads to scalable detour discovery), and the presence of mutual advantage (which makes fairness possible). Then, using the results of the measurement study, I design and build PeerWise, the first routing overlay network that reduces end-to-end latency between its participants and is both scalable and fair. I evaluate PeerWise using simulation and through a wide-area deployment on the PlanetLab testbed.