Mark Allman / ICSI @mallman_icsi

Matt Sargent. On Understanding the Internet via Edge Measurement, Doctoral Dissertation, Case Western Reserve University, August 2015.
PDF | Defense Slides


The design philosophy of the Internet enables the transmission of packets between “smart” network edges via a “dumb” middle, or core portion of the network. Core networks are ultimately responsible for the single task of routing packets between hosts that are not physically connected. They do so by operating at the network layer of the Open System Interconnection model using the Internet Protocol. Routing requires no understanding of what type of traffic is being transmitted, but only of where a packet is ultimately destined. Whereas the core network’s primary job is to correctly route packets, edge networks have additional “smarts” as they contain myriad end point devices each responsible for implementing network protocols and applications. Common tasks like transmitting email, streaming video, or visiting web pages must all be implemented by end point devices. Thus, edge networks and the devices they contain are largely responsible for the evolution of overall network characteristics.

In this dissertation we examine several changes edge networks have undergone recently and leverage empirical measurements to understand how edge network evolution has affected various network characteristics. We begin by studying traffic characterization and connection performance on a residential Fiber-To-The-Home network. We then shift our attention to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and how its performance has been affected by a mismatch between the protocol specification and packet round trip times on the modern network. Next, we examine ways network applications drive sending patterns in TCP connections and how these patterns affect overall TCP performance. We conclude with two studies focusing on security related topics for edge networks. First, we develop and test a methodology that aims to broadly understand the port filtering policies in place throughout the network through passive traffic observation. Finally, we undertake a study of Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) traffic characteristics and demonstrate how IGMP traffic can be used to launch several attacks from edge networks. The list of topics we tackle is by no means exhaustive, but each topic does represent important work that allows us to keep our understanding of edge network behaviors up-to-date.


    author = "Matt Sargent",
    title  = "{On Understanding the Internet via Edge Measurement}",
    school = "Case Western Reserve University",
    year   = 2015,
    month  = aug,

Papers from this thesis:
  • Matthew Sargent, John Kristoff, Vern Paxson, Mark Allman. On the Potential Abuse of IGMP. ACM Computer Communication Review, 47(1), January 2017.
    Abstract | BibTeX | PDF | Review
  • Matthew Sargent, Jakub Czyz, Mark Allman, Michael Bailey. On The Power and Limitations of Detecting Network Filtering via Passive Observation, Passive and Active Measurement Conference (PAM), March 2015.
    Abstract | BibTeX | PDF | Matt's Slides
  • Matt Sargent, Mark Allman. Performance Within A Fiber-To-The-Home Network, ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review, 44(3), July 2014.
    Abstract | BibTeX | PDF | Review | Project
  • Matt Sargent, Ethan Blanton, Mark Allman. Modern Application Layer Transmission Patterns from a Transport Perspective, Passive and Active Measurement Conference, March 2014.
    Abstract | BibTeX | PDF | Matt's Slides | Project
  • Matthew Sargent, Brian Stack, Tom Dooner, Mark Allman. A First Look at 1 Gbps Fiber-To-The-Home Traffic}. Technical Report 12-009, International Computer Science Institute, August 2012.
    Abstract | BibTeX | PDF | Project
  • Vern Paxson, Mark Allman, H.K. Jerry Chu, Matt Sargent. Computing TCP's Retransmission Timer, June 2011. RFC 6298.
    Status: Standards Track, Obsoletes RFC 2988.
    Abstract | BibTeX | TXT | Errata
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." --Aristotle