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Efficient Loop Detection in Forwarding Networks and Representing Atoms in a Field of Sets

Abstract : The problem of detecting loops in a forwarding network is known to be NP-complete when general rules such as wildcard expressions are used. Yet, network analyzer tools such as Netplumber (Kazemian et al., NSDI'13) or Veriflow (Khurshid et al., NSDI'13) efficiently solve this problem in networks with thousands of forwarding rules. In this paper, we complement such experimental validation of practical heuristics with the first provably efficient algorithm in the context of general rules. Our main tool is a canonical representation of the atoms (i.e. the minimal non-empty sets) of the field of sets generated by a collection of sets. This tool is particularly suited when the intersection of two sets can be efficiently computed and represented. In the case of forwarding networks, each forwarding rule is associated with the set of packet headers it matches. The atoms then correspond to classes of headers with same behavior in the network. We propose an algorithm for atom computation and provide the first polynomial time algorithm for loop detection in terms of number of classes (which can be exponential in general). This contrasts with previous methods that can be exponential, even in simple cases with linear number of classes. Second, we introduce a notion of network dimension captured by the overlapping degree of forwarding rules. The values of this measure appear to be very low in practice and constant overlapping degree ensures polynomial number of header classes. Forwarding loop detection is thus polynomial in forwarding networks with constant overlapping degree.
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Contributor : Laurent Viennot Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 6:26:02 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 21, 2022 - 3:16:54 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 6:52:46 PM


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  • HAL Id : hal-01868778, version 1
  • ARXIV : 1809.01896


Yacine Boufkhad, Leonardo Linguaglossa, Fabien Mathieu, Diego Perino, Laurent Viennot. Efficient Loop Detection in Forwarding Networks and Representing Atoms in a Field of Sets. 2018. ⟨hal-01868778⟩



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