A Packet-Classification Algorithm for Arbitrary Bitmask Rules, With Automatic Time-Space Tradeoffs

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Executive Summary

The authors present an algorithm for classifying packets according to arbitrary (including noncontiguous) bitmask rules. As its principal novelty, the algorithm is parameterized by the amount of memory available and can customize its data structures to optimize classification time without exceeding a given memory bound. The algorithm thus automatically trades time for space efficiency as needed. The two extremes of this time-space tradeoff (linear search through the rules versus a single table that maps every possible packet to its class number) are special cases of the general algorithm they present.

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