An Axiomatic Basis for Communication

Martin Karsten, S. Keshav, Sanjiva Prasad, and Mirza Beg

The de facto service architecture of today's communication networks, in particular the Internet, is heterogeneous, complex, ad hoc, and not particularly well understood. With layering as the only means for functional abstraction, and even this violated by middle-boxes, the diversity of current technologies can barely be expressed, let alone analyzed. As a first step to remedying this problem, we present an axiomatic formulation of fundamental forwarding mechanisms in communication networks. This formulation allows us to express precisely and abstractly the concepts of naming and addressing and to specify a consistent set of control patterns and operational primitives, from which a variety of communication services can be composed. Importantly, this framework can be used to (1) formally analyze network protocols based on structural properties, and also to (2) derive working prototype implementations of these protocols. The prototype is implemented as a universal forwarding engine, a general framework and runtime environment based on the Click router.


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