Packet Losses


Measurement and estimation of packet loss characteristics are challenging due to the relatively rare occurrence and typically short duration of packet loss episodes. While active probe tools are commonly used to measure packet loss on end-to-end paths, there has been little analysis of the accuracy of these tools or their impact on the network. The objective of our study is to understand how to measure packet loss episodes accurately with end-to-end probes. We begin by testing the capability of standard Poisson-modulated end-to-end measurements of loss in a controlled laboratory environment using IP routers and commodity end hosts. Our tests show that loss characteristics reported from such Poisson-modulated probe tools can be quite inaccurate over a range of traffic conditions. Motivated by these observations, we introduce a new algorithm for packet loss measurement that is designed to overcome the deficiencies in standard Poisson-based tools. Specifically, our method entails probe experiments that follow a geometric distribution to 1) enable an explicit trade-off between accuracy and impact on the network, and 2) enable more accurate measurements than standard Poisson probing at the same rate. We evaluate the capabilities of our methodology experimentally by developing and implementing a prototype tool, called BADABING. The experiments demonstrate the trade-offs between impact on the network and measurement accuracy. We show that BADABING reports loss characteristics far more accurately than traditional loss measurement tools.

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