Effect of two forms of feedback on the performance of the Rate Control Protocol (RCP)

Abuthahir Abuthahir, Nizar Malangadan, Gaurav Raina

The Rate Control Protocol (RCP) uses explicit feedback from routers to control network congestion. RCP estimates it's fair rate from two forms of feedback: rate mismatch and queue size. An important design question that remains open in RCP is whether the presence of queue size feedback is helpful, given the presence of feedback from rate mismatch. The feedback from routers to end-systems is time delayed, and may introduce instabilities and complex non-linear dynamics. Delay dynamical systems are often modeled using delay differential equations to facilitate a mathematical analysis of their performance and dynamics. The RCP models with and without queue size feedback give rise to two distinct non-linear delay differential equations. Earlier work on this design question was based on methods of linear systems theory. For further progress, it is quite natural to employ nonlinear techniques. In this study, we approach this design question using tools from control and bifurcation theory. The analytical results reveal that the removal of queue feedback could enhance both stability and convergence properties. Further, using Poincar\'{e} normal forms and center manifold theory, we investigate two nonlinear properties, namely, the type of Hopf bifurcation and the asymptotic stability of the bifurcating limit cycles. We show that the presence of queue feedback in the RCP can lead to a sub-critical Hopf bifurcation, which would give rise either to the onset of large amplitude limit cycles or to unstable limit cycles. Whereas, in the absence of queue feedback, the Hopf bifurcation is always super-critical and the bifurcating limit cycles are stable. The analysis is complemented with computations and some packet-level simulations as well. In terms of design, our study suggests that the presence of both forms of feedback may be detrimental to the performance of RCP.

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