Mapping Internet Backbone
as an Underlay for Improved Communications
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As the largest man-made complex network, the Internet grows with no central authority. Thousands of small and medium size Autonomous Systems connect individuals, businesses, universities, and agencies while focusing on optimizing their own communication efficiency and economic objectives. Each network is built by operators with different technical expertise and range a from small local organization network to a large transcontinental backbone. This integrated research and education plan aims to develop an Internet Topology Mapping System that will provide an underlay for improved communications in various application domains. The project attempts to provide significant improvements at multiple levels of Internet topology measurements and transforms the resulting measurement data into useful information for modeling and extracting knowledge from the Internet topology.
(i) builds upon novel ideas in approaching the challenges in large-scale topology data handling to capture Internet characteristics and dynamics,
(ii) provides valuable longitudinal Internet topology measurements and a customizable graph indexing tool for large scale graph databases,
(iii) integrates complex network theories to understand and suggest ways to improve the Internet backbone,
(iv) closely integrates K-12, college, and graduate education into its research activities.
Intellectual Merit: The motivation of the project is to develop a comprehensive system that will capture the Internet topology at fine granularity and periodically provide snapshots of the Internet backbone. The mapping system will then be utilized to investigate topological characteristics of the Internet and provide an underlay for applications to optimize their communications. Compared to the existing Internet topology measurement platforms, the system will (i) build Internet topology graphs with higher accuracy as the system integrates several mechanisms to efficiently handle large-scale measurement data; (ii) work at higher level of granularity by providing backbone topology maps at link layer; (iii) periodically release annotated network topologies in addition to the raw measurement data so that the community can utilize them in their experiments and optimize network communications; (iv) help in understanding Internet topology dynamics and providing network enhancements; and (v) provide a graph indexing tool to process and analyze large-scale networks.
Broader Impacts: Understanding the topological characteristics of the Internet is an important issue for various communities including the government, academia and industry. Network research community depends on such Internet mapping systems to understand characteristics of the Internet so that better protocols and services are developed. Moreover, new network paradigms such as cloud farms and content distribution networks require knowledge of the underlying networks. The mapping system will help these communities to conduct topography analysis and study large-scale characteristics of the Internet. The project integrates research to all levels of education including science projects, seminars, and summer camps for K-12 students and curriculum development and mentorship of college and graduate students. The services developed within the project will be available to researchers and practitioners. Similarly, the developed tools, data, and course material will be available to public via open-source distribution.
DISCLAIMER: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.