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This paper focuses on the definition and identification of ldquoWeb user-sessionsrdquo, aggregations of several TCP connections generated by the same source host. The identification of a user-session is non trivial. Traditional approaches rely on threshold based mechanisms. However, these techniques are very sensitive to the value chosen for the threshold, which may be difficult to set correctly. By applying clustering techniques, we define a novel methodology to identify Web user-sessions without requiring an a priori definition of threshold values. We define a clustering based approach, we discuss pros and cons of this approach, and we apply it to real traffic traces. The proposed methodology is applied to artificially generated traces to evaluate its benefits against traditional threshold based approaches. We also analyze the characteristics of user-sessions extracted by the clustering methodology from real traces and study their statistical properties. Web user-sessions tend to be Poisson, but correlation may arise during periods of network/hosts anomalous behavior.
Date of Publication: April 2009