London: Scientists have created the first geometric “atlas” of the Internet as part of a project to prevent our most ubiquitous form of communication from collapsing within the next decade or so.
San Diego Supercomputer Center and Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at the University of California, San Diego, in a collaboration with researchers from Universitat de Barcelona in Spain and the University of Cyprus, took the effort to create the internet map.
CAIDA researcher Dmitri Krioukov, along with Marian Boguna and Fragkiskos Papadopoulos, have described how they discovered a latent hyperbolic, or negatively curved, space hidden beneath the Internet’s topology, leading them to devise a method to create an Internet map using hyperbolic geometry.
In their study, the researchers say such a map would lead to a more robust Internet routing architecture because it simplifies path finding throughout the network.
“We compare routing in the Internet today to using a hypothetical road atlas, which is really just a long encoded list of road intersections and connections that would require drivers to pore through each line to plot a course to their destination without using any geographical, or geometrical, information which helps us navigate through the space in real life,” Nature quoted Krioukov, principal investigator of the project, as saying.
Like many experts, however, Krioukov is concerned that existing Internet routing, which relies on only this topological information, is not really sustainable.
And the researchers have developed an in-depth theory that uses hyperbolic geometry to describe a negatively curved shape of complex networks such as the Internet.
In the study, the researchers have employed this theory, Ark’s data, and statistical inference methods to build a geometric map of the Internet.
They show that routing using such a map would be superior to the existing routing, which is based on pure topology.
Instead of perpetually accessing and rebuilding a reference list of all available network paths, each router in the Internet would know only its hyperbolic coordinates and the coordinates of its neighbours so it could route in the right direction, only relaying the information to its closest neighbor in that direction, according to the researchers.
Known as “greedy routing”, this process would dramatically increase the overall efficiency and scalability of the Internet.
“We believe that using such a routing architecture based on hyperbolic geometry will create the best possible levels of efficiency in terms of speed, accuracy, and resistance to damage,” said Krioukov.
However the researchers caution that actually implementing and deploying such a routing structure in the Internet might be as challenging, if not more challenging, than discovering its hidden space.
The study is published in Nature Communications.