Fantastic NSF PI meeting for Future Internet Architecture program

October 8th, 2016 by kc

I had the honor and pleasure of participating in a fantastic PI meeting last month — the National Science Foundation’s Future Internet Architecture (FIA) research program, 20-21 September 2014. As the formal FIA program winds down, NSF wants to maximize the opportunities for return on its investments into this program by helping connect principal investigators and researchers with other potential applied research and development funding sources. We are all well aware that, at least in the case of the NDN project (in which CAIDA participates), there are still huge open research challenges that will require years to conquer. But there are also tremendous opportunities to apply the ideas (and the code base) at this stage of the project’s evolution.

Much credit goes to John Wroclawski and Craig Partridge, who led the organization of this meeting. They arranged short presentations by seven federal agency representatives who outlined strategic interests of their agencies that were relevant to FIA technologies, and how to effectively engage those agencies: Stu Wagner (DARPA/I2O), Joe Evans (DARPA/STO), Mark Laurri (DARPA/MTO), Rich Carlson (DOE SC-ACSR), Dan Massey (DHS S&T), Kevin Thompson (NSF), and Doug Montgomery (NIST). They each provided a view of what their programs are, guidelines for how to propose ideas to their agency, links to recent funding opportunities, and answers to any questions we had.

This firehose-of-information session was followed by lunch and then breakouts to prepare pitches to friendly external respondents for feedback and discussion. Each respondent brought broad experience with non-NSF government funding across agencies and technical areas. The FIA researchers got some priceless preparation from some of the best and brightest in the federal funding community. The next challenge for FIA PIs is to convince some of them to participate in the next round of investment into FIA research ideas and technologies. Kudos to NSF and to John and Craig for great assistance with this goal.

CRA Congressional visit to Washington D.C.

September 27th, 2016 by kc

As part of a Computing Research Association (CRA) effort to introduce policymakers to the contributions and power of IT research for the nation and the world, this month I had the honor of visiting with the offices of four U.S. senators and a U.S. Representative:

Internet-specific topics I discussed included the importance of scientific measurement infrastructure to support empirical network and security research, broadband policy, and Internet governance.

We left them with a terrific infographic from the National Academy study “Continuing Innovation in Information Technology”, which shows the economic impact of different areas of fundamental IT research. The 2-pager flyer and the whole National Academy report, Depicting Innovation in Information Technology, is available on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Computer Science Telecommunications Board (CSTB) site.
Continuing Innovation in Information Technology

Even with many folks in Congress having a higher priority of passing a budget and getting back home to their districts to prepare for elections, all the staffers were gracious and genuinely interested in our field. (Who wouldn’t be? ;) )

Kudos to the Computing Research Association for providing a wonderful opportunity to engage with policy folks.

Adding geographic annotations to ISP interconnects

September 20th, 2016 by Bradley Huffaker
AS links  annotated geographic locations.

Geographic annotations on AS links.

The Internet arises from the interconnection of thousands of independently operated networks. Its structure is often modeled as a collection of Autonomous Systems (ASes), nodes, exchanging traffic across interconnects, links. These models are reductive by nature, with large international organizations made up of thousands of machines and cables reduced to a single node, and multiple exchange points reduced to a single link.

We extended this model with the introduction of geographic locations attached to links between ISPs, represented by ASes. This extension maintains the simple node and link structure of the AS graph, and allows us to capture some of the geographic complexity in the topology.

AS graphic with geographic locations.

AS graphic with geographic locations.

Consider the path from UCSD to U.Washington depicted in the illustration above. Level 3 has two possible paths: Level 3 ➡ Cogent ➡ U.Wash and Level 3 ➡ NTT ➡ U.Wash. Both paths have the same AS path length. Assuming Level 3 uses hot-potato routing, in order to spend as little money on carrying traffic as possible, it transfers the traffic as soon as possible onto another provider. In this example, NTT’s Los Angeles connection is closer to San Diego than Cogent’s Las Vegas connection, so Level 3 chooses to route the traffic through NTT.

AS links path

In addition to supporting research on path prediction, these type of geographic annotations of links can provide a more realistic indication of the network’s resilience to link failure. In the figure below, duplicate links between ASes reflect multiple interconnects between ASes. e.g., this figure implies that a single link failure would disconnect UCSD from Level 3, while three links would have to fail for Level 3 and NTT to become disconnected.

 Shows multiple links between ASes that connect in multiple locations.

Shows multiple links between ASes that connect in multiple locations.

Details on our geographic link annotation methods and this data is available at CAIDA’s AS Relationships with geographic annotations page.

NSF WATCH series talk: Mapping Internet Interdomain Congestion

August 26th, 2016 by kc

Last week I gave a talk at NSF’s 39th Washington Area Trustworthy Computing Hour (WATCH) seminar series on CAIDA’s efforts to map internet interdomain congestion. A recorded webcast of the talk is available.


We used the Ark infrastructure to support an ambitious collaboration with MIT to map the rich mesh of interconnection in the Internet, with a focus on congestion induced by evolving peering and traffic management practices of CDNs and access ISPs, including methods to detect and localize the congestion to specific points in networks. We undertook several studies to pursue two dimensions of this challenge. First, we developed methods and tools to identify interconnection borders, and in some cases their physical locations, from comprehensive Internet topology measurements from many edge vantage points. Then, we developed and deployed scalable performance measurement tools to observe performance at thousands of interconnections, algorithms to mine for evidence of persistent congestion in the resulting data; and a system to visualize the results. We produce other related data collection and analysis to enable evaluation of these measurements in the larger context of the evolving ecosystem: quantifying a given network service providers’ global routing footprint; and business-related classifications of networks. In parallel, we examined the peering ecosystem from an economic perspective, exploring fundamental weaknesses and systemic problems of the currently deployed economic framework of Internet interconnection that will continue to cause peering disputes between ASes.

The slides presented are posted on the CAIDA website: Mapping Internet Interdomain Congestion

CAIDA as Independent Measurement Expert for AT&T

August 18th, 2016 by kc

On August 6, 2016, AT&T sent a letter to the FCC regarding Applications of AT&T Inc. and DIRECTV for Consent To Assign or Transfer Control of Licenses and Authorizations, MB Docket No. 14-90 reporting that an amended version of CAIDA’s proposed methodology as an independent measurement expert of AT&T’s interconnection performance has been accepted by AT&T to address the concerns that AT&T had with the original proposed methodology.

The amended report, First Amended Report of AT&T Independent Measurement Expert: Reporting requirements and measurement methods is available online, along with the justification for the amendment.

CAIDA’s work with AT&T is found on CAIDA’s Measuring Internet Interconnection Performance Metrics page.

AIMS 2016 workshop report

August 1st, 2016 by kc

The final report for our 8th Workshop on Active Internet Measurements (AIMS-8) is available for viewing. The abstract:

Read the rest of this entry »

CAIDA’s 2015 Annual Report

July 19th, 2016 by kc

[Executive summary and link below]

The CAIDA annual report summarizes CAIDA’s activities for 2015, in the areas of research, infrastructure, data collection and analysis. Our research projects span Internet topology, routing, security, economics, future Internet architectures, and policy. Our infrastructure, software development, and data sharing activities support measurement-based internet research, both at CAIDA and around the world, with focus on the health and integrity of the global Internet ecosystem. The executive summary is excerpted below:

Mapping the Internet. We continued to pursue Internet cartography, improving our IPv4 and IPv6 topology mapping capabilities using our expanding and extensible Ark measurement infrastructure. We improved the accuracy and sophistication of our topology annotation capabilities, including classification of ISPs and their business relationships. Using our evolving IP address alias resolution measurement system, we collected curated, and released another Internet Topology Data Kit (ITDK).

Mapping Interconnection Connectivity and Congestion.
We used the Ark infrastructure to support an ambitious collaboration with MIT to map the rich mesh of interconnection in the Internet, with a focus on congestion induced by evolving peering and traffic management practices of CDNs and access ISPs, including methods to detect and localize the congestion to specific points in networks. We undertook several studies to pursue different dimensions of this challenge: identification of interconnection borders from comprehensive measurements of the global Internet topology; identification of the actual physical location (facility) of an interconnection in specific circumstances; and mapping observed evidence of congestion at points of interconnection. We continued producing other related data collection and analysis to enable evaluation of these measurements in the larger context of the evolving ecosystem: quantifying a given ISP’s global routing footprint; classification of autonomous systems (ASes) according to business type; and mapping ASes to their owning organizations. In parallel, we examined the peering ecosystem from an economic perspective, exploring fundamental weaknesses and systemic problems of the currently deployed economic framework of Internet interconnection that will continue to cause peering disputes between ASes.

Monitoring Global Internet Security and Stability. We conduct other global monitoring projects, which focus on security and stability aspects of the global Internet: traffic interception events (hijacks), macroscopic outages, and network filtering of spoofed packets. Each of these projects leverages the existing Ark infrastructure, but each has also required the development of new measurement and data aggregation and analysis tools and infrastructure, now at various stages of development. We were tremendously excited to finally finish and release BGPstream, a software framework for processing large amounts of historical and live BGP measurement data. BGPstream serves as one of several data analysis components of our outage-detection monitoring infrastructure, a prototype of which was operating at the end of the year. We published four other papers that either use or leverage the results of internet scanning and other unsolicited traffic to infer macroscopic properties of the Internet.

Future Internet Architectures. The current TCP/IP architecture is showing its age, and the slow uptake of its ostensible upgrade, IPv6, has inspired NSF and other research funding agencies around the world to invest in research on entirely new Internet architectures. We continue to help launch this moonshot from several angles — routing, security, testbed, management — while also pursuing and publishing results of six empirical studies of IPv6 deployment and evolution.

Public Policy. Our final research thrust is public policy, an area that expanded in 2015, due to requests from policymakers for empirical research results or guidance to inform industry tussles and telecommunication policies. Most notably, the FCC and AT&T selected CAIDA to be the Independent Measurement Expert in the context of the AT&T/DirecTV merger, which turned out to be as much of a challenge as it was an honor. We also published three position papers each aimed at optimizing different public policy outcomes in the face of a rapidly evolving information and communication technology landscape. We contributed to the development of frameworks for ethical assessment of Internet measurement research methods.

Our infrastructure operations activities also grew this year. We continued to operate active and passive measurement infrastructure with visibility into global Internet behavior, and associated software tools that facilitate network research and security vulnerability analysis. In addition to BGPstream, we expanded our infrastructure activities to include a client-server system for allowing measurement of compliance with BCP38 (ingress filtering best practices) across government, research, and commercial networks, and analysis of resulting data in support of compliance efforts. Our 2014 efforts to expand our data sharing efforts by making older topology and some traffic data sets public have dramatically increased use of our data, reflected in our data sharing statistics. In addition, we were happy to help launch DHS’ new IMPACT data sharing initiative toward the end of the year.

Finally, as always, we engaged in a variety of tool development, and outreach activities, including maintaining web sites, publishing 27 peer-reviewed papers, 3 technical reports, 3 workshop reports, 33 presentations, 14 blog entries, and hosting 5 workshops. This report summarizes the status of our activities; details about our research are available in papers, presentations, and interactive resources on our web sites. We also provide listings and links to software tools and data sets shared, and statistics reflecting their usage. sources. Finally, we offer a “CAIDA in numbers” section: statistics on our performance, financial reporting, and supporting resources, including visiting scholars and students, and all funding sources.

For the full 2015 annual report, see

NDN Next Phase Annual Report (2015-2016)

June 30th, 2016 by kc

The Named Data Networking project recently published the NDN-NP annual report covering activities from May 2015 through April 2016.).

V. Jacobson, J. Burke, L. Zhang, T. Abdelzaher, B. Zhang, k. claffy, P. Crowley, J. Halderman, C. Papadopoulos, and L. Wang, “Named Data Networking Next Phase (NDN-NP) Project May 2015 – April 2016 Annual Report”, Tech. rep., Named Data Networking (NDN), Jun 2016.

This report summarizes our accomplishments during the second year of the Named Data Networking Next Phase (NDN-NP) project (the 5th year of the overall project. This phase of the project focuses on deploying and evaluating the NDN architecture in four environments: building automation management systems, mobile health, multimedia real-time conferencing tools, and scientific data applications. Implementation and testing of pilot applications in these network environments further demonstrated our research progress in namespace design, trust management, and encryption-based access control. Highlights from this year include:

  1. Continued evolution the NDN Forwarding Daemon (NFD), to support application-driven experimentation with new NDN protocol features.
  2. Development of an Android version of NFD to promote NDN experimentation on mobile platforms.
  3. Implementation of a new transport protocol (InfoMax) that can intelligently filter streams of information in order to reduce transmitted data volume, while minimizing loss of information.
  4. A growing portfolio of supporting software libraries, including new APIs, transport mechanisms (Sync, information maximization), and security functionality, that leverage inherent capabilities of NDN, e.g., schematized trust, name-based access control.
  5. Demonstration of extremely scalable forwarding implementation using a billion synthetic names.
  6. Implementation and evaluation of hyperbolic routing
    performance to understand its feasibility in supporting NDN’s
    interdomain routing.

  7. Multi-faceted evaluation of the architecture, from
    instrumentation of applications on the testbed, to uses of ndnSIM and the Mini-NDN emulator environment.

  8. Continued uses of NDN in the four courses taught by principal investigators.
  9. The second annual NDN Community meeting hosted by the
    NDN Consortium to promote a vibrant open source ecosystem of
    research and experimentation around NDN.

The NDN team has made tremendous progress in the last five years, and a larger community of information-centric networking research has evolved in parallel. Our progress revealed the importance of demonstrating NDN capabilities in IoT and big data environments, and highlighted the need for accessible software platform support and emulation capabilities to facilitate R\&D on both the NDN architecture and applications that leverage it. We have received a year of supplement funding to complete four tasks: 1) completing and disseminating native NDN applications and associated design patterns, 2) demonstrating NDN scalability; 3) documenting and releasing reference implementations, and 4) documenting NDN design decisions and lessons learned.

Toward a Congestion Heatmap of the Internet

June 3rd, 2016 by Amogh Dhamdhere

In the past year, we have made substantial progress on a system to measure congestion on interdomain links between networks. This effort is part of our NSF-funded project on measuring interdomain connectivity and congestion. The basic nugget of our technique is to send TTL-limited probes from a vantage point (VP) within a network, toward the near and the far end of an interdomain (border) link of that network, and to monitor diurnal patterns in the near and far-side time series. We refer to this method as “Time-Series Latency Probing”, or TSLP. Our hypothesis is that a persistently elevated RTT to the far end of the link, but no corresponding RTT elevation to the near side, is a signal of congestion at the interdomain link.

It turns out that identifying interdomain links from a VP inside a network is surprisingly challenging, for several reasons: lack of standard IP address assignment practices for inter domain links; unadvertised address space by ISPs; and myriad things that can go wrong with traceroute measurements (third-party addresses, unresponsive routers). See our paper at the 2014 Internet Measurement Conference (IMC) for a description of these issues. To overcome those challenges and identify network borders from within a network, we have developed bdrmap, an active measurement tool to accurately identify interdomain links between networks. A paper describing the bdrmap algorithms is currently under submission to IMC 2016.

Our second major activity in the last year has been to develop a backend system that manages TSLP probing from our set of distributed vantage points, collects and organizes data, and presents that data for easy analysis and visualization. A major goal of the backend system is to be adaptive, i.e., the probing state should adapt to topological and routing changes in the network. To this end, we run the bdrmap topology discovery process continuously on each VP. Every day, we process completed bdrmap runs from each monitor and add newly discovered interdomain links or update the probing state for existing links (i.e., destinations we can use to probe those links, and the distance of those links from our VP). We then push updated probing lists to the monitor. This adaptive process ensures that we always probe a relatively current state of thousands of interdomain links visible from our VPs.

Third, we have greatly expanded the scale of our measurement system. We started this project in 2014 with an initial set of approximately ten VPs in 5-6 access networks mostly in the United States. We are now running congestion measurements from over sixty Archipelago VPs in 39 networks and 26 countries around the world. Our Ark VPs have sufficient memory and compute power to run both the border mapping process and the TSLP probing without any issues. However, when we looked into porting our measurements to other active measurement platforms such as Bismark or the FCC’s measurement infrastructure operated by SamKnows, we found that the OpenWRT-based home routers were too resource-constrained to run bdrmap and TSLP directly. To overcome this challenge, we developed a method to move the bulk of the resource-intensive processing from the VPs to a central controller at CAIDA, so the VP only has to run an efficient probing engine (scamper) with a small memory footprint and low CPU usage. We have deployed a test set of 15 Bismark home routers in this type of remote configuration, with lots of help from the folks at the Bismark Project. Our next target deployment will be a set of >5000 home routers that are part of the FCC-SamKnows Measuring Broadband America infrastructure.

A fourth major advance we have made in the last year is in visualization and analysis of the generated time series data. We were on the lookout for a time series database to store, process and visualize the TSLP data. After some initial experimentation, we found influxDB to be well-suited to our needs, due to its ability to scale to millions of time series, scalable and usable read/write API, and SQL-like querying capability. We also discovered Grafana, a graphing frontend that integrates seamlessly with the influxDB database to provide interactive querying and graphing capability. Visualizing time series plots from a given VP to various neighbor networks and browsing hundreds of time series plots is now possible with a few mouse clicks on the Grafana UI. The figure below shows RTT data for 7 interdomain links between a U.S. access provider and a content provider over the course of a week. This graph took a few minutes to produce with influxDB and Grafana; previously this data exploration would have taken hours using data stored in standard relational databases.



As the cherry on the cake, we have set up the entire system to provide a near real-time view of congestion events. TSLP data is pulled off our VPs and indexed into the influxDB database within 30 minutes of being generated. Grafana provides an auto-refresh mode wherein we can set up a dashboard to periodically refresh when new data is available. There is no technical barrier to shortening the 30-minute duration to an arbitrarily short duration, within reason. The figure below shows a pre-configured dashboard with the real-time congestion state of interdomain links from 5 large access networks in the US to 3 different content providers/CDNs (network names anonymized). Several graphs on that dashboard show a diurnal pattern that signals evidence of congestion on the interdomain link. While drawing pretty pictures and having everything run faster is certainly satisfying, it is neither the goal nor the most challenging aspect of this project. A visualization is only as good as the data that goes into it. Drawing graphs was the easy part; developing a sustainable and scalable system that will keep producing meaningful data was infinitely more challenging. We are delighted with where we are at the moment, and look forward to opening up the data exploration interface for external users.


So what happens next? We are far from done here. We are currently working on data analysis modules for time series data with the goal of producing alarms, automatically and without human intervention, that indicate evidence of congestion. Those alarms will be input to a reactive measurement system that we have developed to distribute on-demand measurement tasks to VPs. We envision different types of reactive measurement tasks, e.g., confirming the latency-based evidence of congestion by launching probes to measure loss rate, estimating the impact on achievable throughput by running NDT tests, or estimating potential impacts to user Quality of Experience (QoE). The diagram below shows the various components of the measurement system we are developing. The major piece that remains is continuous analysis of the TSLP data, generating alarms, and pushing on-demand measurements to the reactive measurement system. Stay tuned!


The team: Amogh Dhamdhere, Matthew Luckie, Alex Gamero-Garrido, Bradley Huffaker, kc claffy, Steve Bauer, David Clark

Online course “Internet Measurements: a Hands-on Introduction”

March 30th, 2016 by kc

We just learned our colleagues Timur Friedman (UPMC) and Renata Teixeira (INRIA) and Timur Friedman (UPMC) are teaching a new course: “Internet Measurements: a Hands-on Introduction.” The course will be available from May 23rd to June 19th, 2016 on the platform France Université Numérique (FUN).


This free online course, taught in English, will cover internet measurement basics including network topology and routes; connectivity, losses, latency, and geolocation; bandwidth; and traffic measurements; with hands-on exercises on PlanetLab Europe.
Students of this course will ideally have a level of understanding of internet technology that comes from an advanced undergraduate course or a first Masters course in networking, or equivalent professional experience.


Registration and details available at