Detection, Understanding, and Prevention of Traceroute Measurement Artifacts

By Fabien Viger, Brice Augustin, Xavier Cuvellier, Clémence Magnien, Matthieu Latapy, Timur Friedman, and Renata Teixeira

Computer Networks 52-5 (2008), pp. 998-1018. Extended abstract published in the proceedings of the 6-th Internet Measurement Conference IMC'06, 2006, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Traceroute is widely used: from the diagnosis of network problems to the assemblage of internet maps. Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with traceroute methodology, which lead to the inference of erroneous routes. This paper studies particular structures arising in nearly all traceroute measurements. We characterize them as "loops", "cycles", and "diamonds". We identify load balancing as a possible cause for the appearance of false loops, cycles and diamonds, i.e., artifacts that do not represent the internet topology. We provide a new publicly-available traceroute, called Paris traceroute, which, by controlling the packet header contents, provides a truer picture of the actual routes that packets follow. We performed measurements, from the perspective of a single source tracing towards multiple destinations, and Paris traceroute allowed us to show that many of the particular structures we observe are indeed traceroute measurement artifacts.

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