Detection, Understanding, and Prevention of Traceroute Measurement Artifacts

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Executive Summary

Traceroute is widely used, from the diagnosis of network problems to the assemblage of internet maps. Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with traceroute methodology, which lead to the inference of erroneous routes. This paper studies particular structures arising in nearly all traceroute measurements. The authors characterize them as "Loops", "Cycles", and "Diamonds". They identify load balancing as a possible cause for the appearance of false loops, cycles, and diamonds, i.e., artifacts that do not represent the internet topology. They provide a new publicly-available traceroute, called Paris traceroute, which, by controlling the packet header contents, provides a truer picture of the actual routes that packets follow.

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