Don't Optimize Existing Protocols, Design Optimizable Protocols

By: 
Jiayue He, Jennifer Rexford, and Mung Chiang
Appears in: 
CCR July 2007

As networks grow in size and complexity, network management has become an increasingly challenging task. Many protocols have tunable parameters, and optimization is the process of setting these parameters to optimize an objective. In recent years, optimization techniques have been widely applied to network management problems, albeit with mixed success. Realizing that optimization problems in network management are induced by assumptions adopted in protocol design, we argue that instead of optimizing existing protocols, protocols should be designed with optimization in mind from the beginning. Using examples from our past research on traffic management, we present principles that guide how changes to existing protocols and architectures can lead to optimizable protocols. We also discuss the trade-offs between making network optimization easier and the overhead these changes impose.