A passive approach for detecting shared bottlenecks
There is a growing interest in discovering Internet path characteristics using end-to-end measurements. However, the current mechanisms for performing this task either send probe traffic, or require the sender to cooperate by time stamping the packets or sending them back-to-back. Furthermore, most of these techniques require the packets to carry sequence numbers to detect losses, and a few of them assume the existence of multicast. This paper introduces a completely passive approach for learning Internet path characteristics. In particular, we show that by noting the time difference between consecutive packets, a passive observer can cluster the flows into groups, such that all the flows in one group share the same bottleneck. Our approach relies on the observation that the correct clustering minimizes the entropy of the inter-packet spacing seen by the observer. It does not inject any probe traffic into the network, does not require any cooperation from the senders, and works with any type of traffic whether it is TCP, UDP, or even multicast. © 2001 IEEE.