Colloquium Details

Transport Architectures for an Evolving Internet

Speaker: Keith Winstein, MIT

Location: Warren Weaver Hall 1302

Date: March 24, 2014, 11:30 a.m.

Host: 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.

Speaker Bio:

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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