[e2e] Are Packet Trains / Packet Bursts a Problem in TCP?

Craig Partridge craig at aland.bbn.com
Sat Sep 23 03:38:53 PDT 2006

Hi Detlef:

Here's my simple-minded answer.

Small packet trains (say 4 or 8 segments) are generally short enough they
do not cause much trouble in queues, yet are long enough to do a useful
(though imperfect) job of throughput estimation.  As an example of
a TCP implementation that uses bursts to estimate and then spreads the
traffic out, see:

    J. Kulik, R. Coulter, D. Rockwell and C. Partridge,
    ``Paced TCP for High Delay-Bandwidth Networks,''
    IEEE Workshop on Satellite Based Information Systems, 
    Rio de Janeiro, December 1999.

At some point, however, burst sizes (or frequency of bursts), becomes
a problem.  Exactly what size/frequency combinations cause grief has, to
my knowledge, not been studied very much.  The only paper I can think of
is the one at SIGCOMM a few years ago on attacking TCP.


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