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Faculty Candidate Seminar

How Accurate are our Maps of the Internet? The Bias of Traceroute Sampling

Assoc. Prof. Cris Moore
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Assoc. Prof. Cris Moore is from the University of New Mexico and the Santa Fe Institute
A great deal of effort has been spent measuring the topology of the Internet. However, it was recently argued by Lakhina et al. that sampling based on traceroutes from a small number of sources introduces a fundamental bias in the observed degree distribution. My Ph.D. student Aaron Clauset and I were able to prove this bias analytically: even if a graph is completely random, traceroute sampling gives the illusion of a power-law degree distribution. For graphs whose degree distributions really do have power-law tails P(k) ~ k^{-alpha}, traceroute sampling can significantly underestimate the value of the exponent alpha, unless we use a large number of sources. In joint work with Dimitris Achlioptas and David Kempe, we extended these results to more general graphs by answering the following mathematical question: if I have a random graph with a given degree distribution and I grow a breadth-first spanning tree on it, what is the likely degree distribution of that tree? I will discuss several analytic techniques we found useful, including differential equations for processes on random graphs.

Sponsored by

CSE Division