The stable paths problem and interdomain routing

  • Authors:
  • Timothy G. Griffin;F. Bruce Shepherd;Gordon Wilfong

  • Affiliations:
  • AT&T Research, Florham Park, NJ;Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ;Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ

  • Venue:
  • IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking (TON)
  • Year:
  • 2002

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Dynamic routing protocols such as RIP and OSPF essentially implement distributed algorithms for solving the shortest paths problem. The border gateway protocol (BGP) is currently the only interdomain routing protocol deployed in the Internet. BGP does not solve a shortest paths problem since any interdomain protocol is required to allow policy-based metrics to override distance-based metrics and enable autonomous systems to independently define their routing policies with little or no global coordination. It is then natural to ask if BGP can be viewed as a distributed algorithm for solving some fundamental problem. We introduce the stable paths problem and show that BGP can be viewed as a distributed algorithm for solving this problem. Unlike a shortest path tree, such a solution does not represent a global optimum, but rather an equilibrium point in which each node is assigned its local optimum.We study the stable paths problem using a derived structure called a dispute wheel, representing conflicting routing policies at various nodes. We show that if no dispute wheel can be constructed, then there exists a unique solution for the stable paths problem. We define the simple path-vector protocol (SPVP), a distributed algorithm for solving the stable paths problem. SPVP is intended to capture the dynamic behavior of BGP at an abstract level. If SPVP converges, then the resulting state corresponds to a stable paths solution. If there is no solution, then SPVP always diverges. In fact, SPVP can even diverge when a solution exists. We show that SPVP will converge to the unique solution of an instance of the stable paths problem if no dispute wheel exists.