Algorithms for packet classification

  • Gupta P
  • McKeown N
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The process of categorizing packets into “flows” in an Internet router is called packet classification. All packets belonging to the same flow obey a predefined rule and are processed in a similar manner by the router. For example, all packets with the same source and destination IP addresses may be defined to form a flow. Packet classification is needed for non-best-effort services, such as firewalls and quality of service; services that require the capability to distinguish and isolate traffic in different flows for suitable processing. In general, packet classification on multiple fields is a difficult problem. Hence, researchers have proposed a variety of algorithms which, broadly speaking, can be categorized as basic search algorithms, geometric algorithms, heuristic algorithms, or hardware-specific search algorithms. In this tutorial we describe algorithms that are representative of each category, and discuss which type of algorithm might be suitable for different applications

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  • P. Gupta

  • N. McKeown

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