Single and Multiple Buffer Processing
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Buffer management policies are online algorithms that control a limited buffer of packets with homogeneous or heterogeneous characteristics, deciding whether to accept new packets when they arrive, which packets to process and transmit, and possibly whether to push out packets already residing in the buffer. Although settings differ, the problem is always to achieve the best possible competitive ratio, i.e., find a policy with good worst-case guarantees in comparison with an optimal offline clairvoyant algorithm. The policies themselves are often simple, simplicity being an important advantage for implementation in switches; the hard problem is to find proofs of lower and especially upper bounds for their competitive ratios. Thus, this problem is more theoretical in nature, although the resulting throughput guarantees are important tools in the design of network elements. Comprehensive surveys of this field have been given in the past by Goldwasser and Epstein and van Stee.