CAIDA’s Annual Report for 2008

June 3rd, 2009 by Josh Polterock

2008 was an exciting year for the Internet and no less exciting for CAIDA. As network-capable personal/computing devices became ever more affordable and ubiquitous, and developers continued the flow of [open] applications/protocols that make it easier to create, capture, edit, publish and share information at the increasing speeds allowed by optical fiber, cable, and wifi services, we continue to make vast empirically untested assumptions about how the Internet is financed, operated, and used. What’s going on under the hood of the engine of our new digitized economy?

Over the last two decades, the Internet operational and research communities have gathered overwhelming evidence that underneath the exciting developments at the application level, the Internet’s architecture faces overwhelmingly and relatively near-term challenges with arguably intractable technological, political, social, and economic dimensions. We have previously taxonomized these problems into four categories of concerns for the Internet as emerging critical infrastructure: safety, scalability, sustainability, and stewardship.

CAIDA’s 2008 Annual Report describes our recent efforts to illuminate these aspects of the Internet, providing highlights from our research, infrastructure, and outreach activities. Our current research projects, primarily funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), include several measurement-based studies of the Internet’s core infrastructure, focused on the health and integrity of the global Internet topology, routing, addressing, and naming systems.

We made fundamental advances in several of our research projects this year, supported by increased coverage by our measurement infrastructure, and increased collaborations with colleagues around the world. Highlights from the annual report include:

  • The first full calendar year of the most comprehensive annotated view of IPv4 topology thus far. We also began to deploy IPv6 topology measurement instrumentation.
  • Some of our topology research focused on how different routing approaches in nature are maximally efficient on certain types of peculiarly structured topologies, conveniently, those structured like the Internet AS graph. Further, we found that self-similarity of clustering in real complex networks provides strong empirical evidence that some hidden metric spaces underlie these networks. In trying to model self-similar (scale-free) networks embedded into such a hidden space, we discover that a certain approach to routing — greedy routing — is phenomenally successful and efficient in such a model. We are still exploring the ramifications of this intense discovery, and the even more intriguing breakthrough that this hidden space seems to be hyperbolic.
  • Our research into network growth dynamics also yielded two papers with surprising results about different regimes of network growth: (1)  that there may be a vast pre-asymptotic regime of complex network growth that gives rise to power-law like effects in degree distribution; (2)  a simple customer-provider-based modification of the preferential attachment model can account for Internet topology evolution, including the ISP consolidation toward monopoly.
  • increased active and passive measurement infrastructure as well as continued maintainance of a catalog of Internet measurement data sets.
  • coordination and analysis of another DITL’s (Day in the Life of the Internet worth of data.
  • updated our real-time traffic report generator, geographical visualizations of DNS workload to a given set of servers, updates to our IPv4 and IPv6 AScore posters, and visual maps of IPv4 address space consumption.
  • a set of blog entries that became a short Internet research tutorial for policy folks.

For all the exciting details, we encourage you read the full report and post comments/questions, which we can integrate into next year’s update of our strategic program plan.

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