Counterfeiting Congestion Control Algorithms, HotNets 2021


Congestion Control Algorithms (CCAs) impact numerous desirable Internet properties such as performance, stability, and fairness. Hence, the networking community invests substantial effort into studying whether new algorithms are safe for wide-scale deployment. However, operators today are continuously innovating and some deployed CCAs are unpublished – either because the CCA is in beta or because it is considered proprietary. How can the networking community evaluate these new CCAs when their inner workings are unknown? In this paper, we propose ‘counterfeit congestion control algorithms’ – reverse-engineered implementations derived using program synthesis based on observations of the original implementation. Using the counterfeit (synthesized) CCA implementation, researchers can then evaluate the CCA using controlled empirical testbeds or mathematical analysis, even without access to the original implementation. Our initial prototype, ‘Mister 880,’ can synthesize several basic CCAs including a simplified Reno using only a few traces.