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The authors design and implement a novel class of highly precise network instrumentation and apply this tool to perform the first exact packet-timing measurements of a wide-area network ever undertaken, capturing 10 G0igabit Ethernet packets in flight on optical fiber. Through principled design, they improve timing precision by two to six orders of magnitude over existing techniques. The observations contest several common assumptions about behavior of wide-area networks and the relationship between their input and output traffic flows. Further, they identify and characterize emergent packet chains as a mechanism to explain previously observed anomalous packet loss on receiver endpoints of such networks.
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