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Feb 1, 2017 - 2 minute read - Comments - review

Congestion Avoidance and Control

Paper Title

Congestion Avoidance and Control


Van Jacobson and Michael J Karels


November 1988 (Slightly revised version; originally published in Symposium proceedings on Communications architectures and protocols (SIGCOMM ‘88))

Novel Idea / Main Result(s)

The paper describes the congestion-related problems observed in the erstwhile TCP variant and reports on the algorithms introduced to tackle those problems.


Given we are still reading/talking about this paper after almost three decades, it is fair to say the paper has had a lasting impact. Recalling the congestion control and avoidance concepts studied in CS168, I see that most of those basic ideas originated here in this paper and its references.


Both intuitive/mathematical and empirical analysis is described. I especially like the effectiveness of the diagrams in Fig 1 and 2. The charts are all drawn from experiments done between LBL and UCB in a real setting and hence are quite convincing.


Yes, the description is enough, with a lot of work and resources


The authors talk about possible change in some of their results when the Internet grows large (like the introduction of a third term in the Taylor series on pg. 9) at multiple points. I would like to see what all has changed and what has stood the test of time.



Ideas for further work

I found the connections to queueing theory/control theory and even the conservation principle of liquid flow as an analogy to network flow really interesting. It also reminded me of Lamport’s time, clocks, ordering paper where he was able to bring in ideas from relativity into computing. These connections, in general, suggest how sometimes well-established ideas from another field can be applied to one’s field and why interdisciplinary research makes good sense.

Review Template Credits: Prof. Rodrigo Fonseca


  1. I am taking a graduate seminar this semester at Brown: Special Topics on Networking and Distributed Systems. This and most of the following paper reviews until early-May will be my reviews submitted for this seminar with some minor editing.
  2. This review posted here on Feb 9, 2017