Conference paper

Non-metric coordinates for predicting network proximity

We consider the problem of determining the “closest”, or best Internet host to connect to, from a list of candidate servers. Most existing approaches rely on the use of metric, or more specifically Euclidean coordinates to infer network proximity. This is problematic, given that network distances such as latency are known to violate the triangle inequality. This leads us to consider non-metric coordinate systems. We perform an empirical comparison between the “min-plus” non-metric coordinates and two metric coordinates, namely L-infinity and Euclidean. We observe that, when sufficiently many dimensions are used, min-plus outperforms metric coordinates for predicting Internet latencies. We also consider the prediction of “widest path capacity” between nodes. In this framework, we propose a generalization of min-plus coordinates. These results apply when node coordinates consist in measured network proximity to a random subset of landmark nodes. We perform empirical validation of these results on widest path bandwidth between PlanetLab nodes. We conclude that appropriate non-metric coordinates such as generalized min-plus systems are better suited than metric systems for representing the underlying structure of Internet distances, measured either via latencies or bandwidth.

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