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Multifractality in TCP/IP traffic: the case against Darryl Veitch a,*, Nicolas Hohn a

Summary: Multifractality in TCP/IP traffic: the case against
Darryl Veitch a,*, Nicolas Hohn a
, Patrice Abry b
ARC Special Research Center for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks (CUBIN),
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
CNRS, UMR 5672, Laboratoire de Physique, Ecole Normale Supeīrieure de Lyon, F-69364 Lyon, France
Available online 18 January 2005
The discovery of long-range dependence (a kind of asymptotic fractal scaling) in packet data from LANs and
WANs, was followed by further work detailing evidence for multifractal behaviour in TCP/IP traffic in WANs. In terms
of networking however, physical mechanisms for such behaviour have never been convincingly demonstrated, leaving
open the question of whether multifractal traffic models are of black box type, or alternatively if there is anything ‘real’
behind them. In this paper we review the evidence for multifractal behaviour of aggregate TCP traffic, and show that in
many ways it is weak. Our study includes classic traces and very recent ones. We point out misunderstandings in the
literature concerning the scales over which multifractality has been claimed. We explain other pitfalls which have led to
the multifractal case being overstated, in particular the possibility of ‘pseudo scaling’ being confused with true scaling,
due to shortcomings in the statistical tools. We argue for an alternative point process model with strong physical
meaning. It reproduces the higher order statistics of the data well, despite not being calibrated for them, yet is not


Source: Abry, Patrice - Laboratoire de Physique, Ecole Normale Supťrieure de Lyon


Collections: Engineering