CSCI 599 Special Topics: Internet Measurement
The Internet now plays a central role in many aspects of our lives. Despite the myriad ways we have come to depend on it, many aspects of it can be opaque even to network operators. Internet measurement as a field seeks to understand the Internet by assessing its operation.
The field is interesting for a range of reasons:
- We depend on the Internet, so we need to understand its operation, and we need to discern its problems in order to improve it. Engineers at Google and Facebook cite the difficulty of Internet measurement as one of the impediments they face.
- The Internet is a loose federation of networks that must cooperate to provide global connectivity, even as they compete for business. Some of the opacity arises from this tension, as networks may lack incentive to expose their inner workings and may lack the visibility necessary to optimize their performance.
- The Internet is one of the largest systems humankind has ever engineered, and it has emergent properties. Measurement provides a basis for determining these properties.
- The Internet protocols were designed in an era when networks looked very different than they do today. They do not naturally expose some of the information that we want to learn. Some of the fun of Internet measurement comes from finding novel ways to manipulate the protocols to reveal information.
In this course, we will investigate important problems, techniques, results, and challenges from the field. We will explore both what measurements tell us about the Internet and how we can leverage what they tell us to improve systems, including peer-to-peer file sharing and Google. We will focus on why certain questions are hard to answer, how we might start to answer them, and why different measurements might reveal what seem to be conflicting answers. We will learn to measure various aspects of the Internet, including topology, routing and routing policies, performance, failures, traffic, and applications. Researchers often talk about Internet measurement as being analogous to astronomy, in that we take observations from afar in order to understand how a system works. We will learn to leverage and integrate the various sources of information that leak out from services about their internal operations.
The course will include student presentations, discussions, and lectures. The readings will be selected from recent papers published in top measurement and networking conferences.
Lecture time and location: Wednesdays 3:30-6:20, Taper Hall (THH) 213
Instructor: Ethan Katz-Bassett (SAL 236, office hour by appointment)
You will be expected to read 2-5 papers a week.
There are no required textbooks for the course. Recommended supplemental textbook: Crovella and Krishnamurthy's Internet Measurement: Infrastructure, Traffic & Applications.
CS551 or permission of the instructor. This class is appropriate for graduate students or advanced undergraduates with previous classwork in networking. Students from non-systems/networking areas are welcome.
There are no exams in this class. The course grade will be determined based on:
- Written paper responses and class presentations/discussion (50%): Students are expected to write responses to 2-4 papers a week. Each week, one or two students will give a presentation on the papers and lead the discussions in class. Other students are expected to participate in the discussion.
- A research project, including ~6 pg writeup and ~20 minute presentation (50%): The semester-long project is an open-ended Internet measurement project. The instructor will provide some possible project topics, or (with instructor approval) you can work on a project of your own devising. Most projects will likely involve either making new measurements or performing new analysis of existing data. Projects should be done in groups of two. If you plan to work individually or in a group larger than two, please obtain instructor permission first.
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