Computer Science Colloquium

Transport Architectures for an Evolving Internet

Keith Winstein, MIT

March 24, 2014 11:30AM
Warren Weaver Hall, 1302
251 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012

Spring 2014 Colloquia Calendar


Denis Zorin


The technologies that make up the Internet are changing
every year, but some transport protocols continue to act as though the
Internet behaved as it did 20 years ago. This can cause poor
performance on newer networks -- cellular networks, datacenters -- and
makes it more challenging to roll out networking technologies that
break markedly with the past. How do we make applications and
protocols keep up with an evolving network? I will describe the Sprout
algorithm, a transport protocol designed for videoconferencing over
cellular networks, that uses probabilistic inference to forecast
network congestion in advance. On commercial cellular networks, Sprout
gives 2-to-4 times the throughput and 7-to-9 times less delay than
Skype, Apple Facetime, and Google+ Hangouts.

This work led to Remy, a computer program that generates transport
protocols automatically, as a function of a protocol designer's
assumptions about the network and statement of an objective
function. Remy's computer-generated algorithms can achieve higher
performance and greater fairness than some sophisticated
human-designed schemes. I will discuss our work on using Remy to probe
open questions of Internet congestion control -- what's the cost of
maintaining backwards compatibility with existing algorithms,
including the Transmission Control Protocol as it exists today? Is
there a tradeoff between a protocol's performance today and its
ability to adapt to networks of the future?

This talk includes joint work with Anirudh Sivaraman, Pratiksha
Thaker, and Hari Balakrishnan.


Keith Winstein is a doctoral candidate at MIT's Computer Science
and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His work applies statistical
and predictive approaches to teach computers to design better network
protocols and applications. He created the Mosh (mobile shell) tool
for remote access to Unix-like systems and the Sprout algorithm for
cellular networks, which was awarded a 2014 Applied Networking
Research Prize. From 2007 to 2010, Keith worked as a staff reporter at
The Wall Street Journal, covering science and medicine.

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