Reinforcing Reachable Routes

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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

This paper studies the evaluation of routing algorithms from the perspective of reachability routing, where the goal is to determine all paths between a sender and a receiver. Reachability routing is becoming relevant with the changing dynamics of the Internet and the emergence of low-bandwidth wireless/ad-hoc networks. We make the case for reinforcement learning as the framework of choice to realize reachability routing, within the confines of the current Internet infrastructure. The setting of the reinforcement learning problem offers several advantages,including loop resolution, multi-path forwarding capability, cost-sensitive routing, and minimizing state overhead, while maintaining the incremental spirit of current backbone routing algorithms. We identify research issues in reinforcement learning applied to the reachability routing problem to achieve a fluid and robust backbone routing framework. This paper also presents the design, implementation and evaluation of a new reachability routing algorithm that uses a model-based approach to achieve cost-sensitive multi-path forwarding; performance assessment of the algorithm in various troublesome topologies shows consistently superior performance over classical reinforcement learning algorithms. The paper is targeted toward practitioners seeking to implement a reachability routing algorithm.