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In this paper we propose a new approach for dealing with the ill-posed nature of traffic matrix estimation. We present three solution enhancers: an algorithm for deliberately changing link weights to obtain additional information that can make the underlying linear system full rank; a cyclo-stationary model to capture both long-term and short-term traffic variability, and a method for estimating the variance of origin-destination (OD) flows. We show how these three elements can be combined into a comprehensive traffic matrix estimation procedure that dramatically reduces the errors compared to existing methods. We demonstrate that our variance estimates can be used to identify the elephant OD flows, and we thus propose a variant of our algorithm that addresses the problem of estimating only the heavy flows in a traffic matrix. One of our key findings is that by focusing only on heavy flows, we can simplify the measurement and estimation procedure so as to render it more practical. Although there is a tradeoff between practicality and accuracy, we find that increasing the rank is so helpful that we can nevertheless keep the average errors consistently below the 10% carrier target error rate. We validate the effectiveness of our methodology and the intuition behind it using commercial traffic matrix data from Sprint's Tier-1 backbone.
Date of Publication: June 2007