A Bayesian Approach for TCP to Distinguish Congestion from Wireless Losses
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(This Technical Report revises TR-BUCS-2003-011) The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) has been the protocol of choice for many Internet applications requiring reliable connections. The design of TCP has been challenged by the extension of connections over wireless links. In this paper, we investigate a Bayesian approach to infer at the source host the reason of a packet loss, whether congestion or wireless transmission error. Our approach is "mostly" end-to-end since it requires only one long-term average quantity (namely, long-term average packet loss probability over the wireless segment) that may be best obtained with help from the network (e.g. wireless access agent).Specifically, we use Maximum Likelihood Ratio tests to evaluate TCP as a classifier of the type of packet loss. We study the effectiveness of short-term classification of packet errors (congestion vs. wireless), given stationary prior error probabilities and distributions of packet delays conditioned on the type of packet loss (measured over a larger time scale). Using our Bayesian-based approach and extensive simulations, we demonstrate that congestion-induced losses and losses due to wireless transmission errors produce sufficiently different statistics upon which an efficient online error classifier can be built. We introduce a simple queueing model to underline the conditional delay distributions arising from different kinds of packet losses over a heterogeneous wired/wireless path. We show how Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) can be used by a TCP connection to infer efficiently conditional delay distributions. We demonstrate how estimation accuracy is influenced by different proportions of congestion versus wireless losses and penalties on incorrect classification.