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We take a new look at the issue of network capacity. It is shown that network coding is an essential ingredient in achieving the capacity of a network. Building on recent work by Li et al.(see Proc. 2001 IEEE Int. Symp. Information Theory, p.102), who examined the network capacity of multicast networks, we extend the network coding framework to arbitrary networks and robust networking. For networks which are restricted to using linear network codes, we find necessary and sufficient conditions for the feasibility of any given set of connections over a given network. We also consider the problem of network recovery for nonergodic link failures. For the multicast setup we prove that there exist coding strategies that provide maximally robust networks and that do not require adaptation of the network interior to the failure pattern in question. The results are derived for both delay-free networks and networks with delays.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2003