Equilibrium of heterogeneous congestion control: Optimality and stability

Ao Tang, Xiaoliang Wei, Steven H. Low, Mung Chiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


When heterogeneous congestion control protocols that react to different pricing signals share the same network, the current theory based on utility maximization fails to predict the network behavior. The pricing signals can be different types of signals such as packet loss, queueing delay, etc, or different values of the same type of signal such as different ECN marking values based on the same actual link congestion level. Unlike in a homogeneous network, the bandwidth allocation now depends on router parameters and flow arrival patterns. It can be non-unique, suboptimal and unstable. In Tang (Equilibrium of heterogeneous congestion control: Existence and uniqueness, IEEE/ACM Trans. Netw., vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 824837, Aug. 2007), existence and uniqueness of equilibrium of heterogeneous protocols are investigated. This paper extends the study with two objectives: analyzing the optimality and stability of such networks and designing control schemes to improve those properties. First, we demonstrate the intricate behavior of a heterogeneous network through simulations and present a framework to help understand its equilibrium properties. Second, we propose a simple source-based algorithm to decouple bandwidth allocation from router parameters and flow arrival patterns by only updating a linear parameter in the sources' algorithms on a slow timescale. It steers a network to the unique optimal equilibrium. The scheme can be deployed incrementally as the existing protocol needs no change and only new protocols need to adopt the slow timescale adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5342450
Pages (from-to)844-857
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Congestion control
  • Heterogeneous protocols
  • Optimal allocation
  • Stability


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