A Protocol-Ignorance Perspective on Incremental Deployability of Routing Protocols
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New protocols for Internet inter-domain routing struggle to get widely adopted. Because the Internet consists of more than 50,000 autonomous systems (ASes), deployment of a new routing protocol has to be incremental. In this work, we study such incremental deployment. We first formulate the routing problem in regard to a metric of routing cost. Then, the paper proposes and rigorously defines a statistical notion of protocol ignorance that quantifies the inability of a routing protocol to accurately determine routing prices with respect to the metric of interest. The proposed protocol-ignorance model of a routing protocol is fairly generic and can be applied to routing in both inter-domain and intra-domain settings, as well as to transportation and other types of networks. Our model of protocol deployment makes our study specific to Internet inter-domain routing. Through a combination of mathematical analysis and simulation, we demonstrate that the benefits from adopting a new inter-domain protocol accumulate smoothly during its incremental deployment. In particular, the simulation shows that decreasing the routing price by 25% requires between 43% and 53% of all nodes to adopt the new protocol. Our findings elucidate the deployment struggle of new inter-domain routing protocols and indicate that wide deployment of such a protocol necessitates involving a large number of relevant ASes into a coordinated effort to adopt the new protocol.