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Packet reordering is not pathological network behavior

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3 Author(s)
Bennett, J.C.R. ; Div. of Appl. Sci., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA, USA ; Partridge, C. ; Shectman, N.

It is a widely held belief that packet reordering in the Internet is a pathological behavior, or more precisely, that it is an uncommon behavior caused by incorrect or malfunctioning network components. Some studies of Internet traffic have reported seeing occasional packet reordering events and ascribed these events to “route fluttering”, router “pauses” or simply to broken equipment. We have found, however, that parallelism in Internet components and links is causing packet reordering under normal operation and that the incidence of packet reordering appears to be substantially higher than previously reported. More importantly, we observe that in the presence of massive packet reordering transmission control protocol (TCP) performance can be profoundly effected. Perhaps the most disturbing observation about TCP's behavior is that large scale and largely random reordering on the part of the network can lead to self-reinforcingly poor performance from TCP

Published in:

Networking, IEEE/ACM Transactions on  (Volume:7 ,  Issue: 6 )