computer science

Networks Notes: RFC 768 – User Datagram Protocol

This is a series containing notes I made while reading RFCs.

Link to this RFC.

User Datagram Protocol


  • Uses IP as its underlying protool.
  • Does not guarantee reliable delivery of data streams
  • Protocol mechanism is minimal

Header contains:

  • Source port. (optional)
    • Contains the port of the sending process.
    • Any replies will be possibly addressed to this port.
    • Contains a zero value if unused.
  • Destination port.
    • Contains the port of the destination address.
  • Length.
    • Contains the length (in octets i.e bytes) of the datagram being sent including the header and the data.
    • Minimum value is eight because the header is eight bytes.
  • Checksum.
    • 16-bit one’s complement of the one’s complement sum of the information being sent.
    • Sums up the information in the IP header*, the UDP header and the data.
    • Pads data with zero octets to make a multiple of 2 octets (16-bits remember?)
    • Has a value of all zeroes if not generated (e.g for debugging purposes)
    • Same checksum procedure is also used in TCP.

* or, to be more precise, the pseudoheader which is assumed will be prefixed to the datagram.

A user-interface designed for this protocol should allow:

  • The creation of new receive ports
  • Functionality on the receive ports that does operations like returning the data octets and indicating the source port and address.
  • An operation allowing a datagram to be sent, specifying the data and destination ports and addresses to be sent.

IP Interface guidelines:

  • UDP module should get the source and destination addresses and the protocol field from the IP header.
  • One possible UDP/IP interface can:
    • return whole internet datagram (including internet header) on a receive operation.
    • pass whole internet datagram (again, including header) to the IP on a send operation.
    • Let the IP verify certain fields for consistency and compute the internet header checksum.

Possible applications of this protocol include:

  • Internet Name Server
  • Trivial File Transfer

When used in the Internet Protocol, the protocol number of UDP is 17 (21 in octal).


FlowBender: Flow-level Adaptive Routing for Improved Latency and Throughput in Datacenter Networks by Kabbani, Vamanan, Hasan et al.

Problem: Load-balancing schemes hash a flow to a random path.

  • Long flows collide on the same path. High congestion
  • Other paths underutilized.

Proposed Solution: Flowbender.

  • No excessive packet reordering.
  • End-host driven rehashing. Assigns flows to paths dynamically.
  • Recovers from link failures within Retransmit Timeout (RTO)
  • Readily deployable in data-centers. (< 50 lines of kernel code)
  • Robust. Easy to tune.


Top-Level Design Decisions of Flowbender:

  • Uses flow load-balancing instead of packet-level load-balancing. Shift flow to a different path only once it is congested or disconnected. This avoids:
    • Excessive out-of-order packet delivery
    • Hardware changes to existing datacenter infrastructure
  • Uses RTT-based load-balancing instead of Link-level load-balancing. This:
    • Avoids congestion spreading trees that link-level schemes can create.
    • ECN etc. already demonstrated to promptly propagate congestion information.
    • Using ECN => targeting long flows taking several roundtrips to finish but these flows carry most of the traffic anyway.
    • Transport-layer algorithms (like TCP) can quickly detect end-to-end link-failures. Flowbender can hence promptly avoid broken paths.

Gist of the Algorithm: Transmit a flow on a single path. Reroute that individual flow when it is congested.

  • How do we know a flow is congestion?
  • How is rerouting done?

Sensing Congestion: (uses the same technique as DCTCP)

  • Switch marks every packet exceeding queue size above a threshold.
  • Keep track of the fraction of ECN-marked acks in every RTT.

If congestion is larger than a threshold, we reroute the flow.

Rerouting Flows:

  • ECMP engines in switches compute a hash-function based on packet-header fields.
  • “Hacks” a packet-header field, TTL, based on congestion to change the hash generated. Maps hash to paths. (Why TTL? long story. Feel free to email me if you want to know)

Evaluation Details:

  • Evaluated against existing schemes: ECMP, RPS and DeTail.
  • Evaluation methods used:
    • Simulation (simulated in ns-3, not lame old ns-2 with a stupid Tcl binding and incredibly fucked up C++ API from the prehistoric period)
    • Test-bed implementation


The Best Course I’ve Taken Yet


CS210 – Discrete Mathematics. Hands down the best course I have ever taken. I will argue my case from three different perspectives.

Discrete Mathematics as a Mathematics course

a.k.a Why Formal Math is good too, but Discrete Math is better.

I took both Discrete Mathematics and Introduction to Formal Mathematics in the same semester. I found Discrete Mathematics to be better. Why? It covers almost everything one learns in a formal mathematics course plus more exciting stuff! Formal mathematics covered proof-writing, set theory, cardinality, equivalence relations, functions and (very very) introductory group theory. Discrete Mathematics covered all of this except for the group theory part. However, it also covered introductory number theory, RSA Encryption (we missed that part, though. Due to cancellation of the last class), principles of counting and (the best and most exciting part) graph theory.

Discrete Mathematics as a Computer Science course

a.k.a Mathematics makes code fast and pretty.

Every Computer Scientist on the planet should take a course on discrete mathematics. It gives one the mathematical maturity needed for algorithm design, automata theory, data structures, computational complexity etc. On top of that, it helps one become a better programmer. It teaches one a way of thinking that enables one to write more efficient and, indeed, more beautiful code.

Discrete Mathematics as a Liberal Arts course

a.k.a One can’t argue with a sound mathematical proof

“Liberal arts and math? Lol, who is this nerd trying to kid.” I’m serious, though. To start with, Discrete Mathematics teaches logic. What’s better? It teaches quantified logic and proof writing. This helps one make better arguments and (more importantly) accept only claims backed with rational arguments, which helps one understand the world better.

Algorithms Notes – Chapter 10

Obligatory Computer Science Comic

Depth-First Search – Analysis (continued)

White Path Theorem

Theorem: Let G be a directed or undirected graph on which a depth-first search is executed. Let u and v be two vertices in G. v is a descendant of u if and only if at the time u.d when the algorithm discovers u, there is a path from u to v that consists entirely of white vertices.

Proof: Since this is an if-and-only-if theorem, we must prove both sides of the implication.

Proof of \Rightarrow: Suppose v is a descendant of u in the depth-first forest. By corollary 1 (from the last chapter), we know that u.d < v.d. So v is not discovered before u is discovered, hence v is white at time u.d. Since v can be any descendant of u, all vertices in the unique simple path from u to v in the depth-first forest must be white at time u.d. In the case that v = u, the path just contains the vertex u which is still white when the value of u.d is set by the algorithm.

Proof of \Leftarrow: Suppose there is a path containing only white vertices from u to v at time u.d and v does not become a descendant of u. Let v be the closest non-descendant vertex to u in the path. Let w be the predecessor of v. Since v is the closest non-descendant vertex to u, w is a descendant of u. By corollary 1 from the last chapter, we know that w.f \le u.f (and w.f = u.f if u and w are the same vertex). Since v is a descendant of w, it must be discovered after u is discovered and before the adjacency list scan of w is finished. Hence, it must be true that u.d < v.d < w.f < u.f. The parenthesis theorem then implies that [v.d, v.f] is contained entirely within the interval [u.d, u.f]. By corollary 1, this means that v is still a descendant of u. \square

Note: A depth-first forest is often denoted by G_{\pi} by convention. Just like we denote a graph as G and vertices as u and v. Not necessary at all, just a convention.



G_{\pi} Edge Classification

We can use a depth-first forest to classify edges into four types:

  1. Tree Edges – Let v be a vertex discovered by a DFS. If v was first discovered by exploring any edge (u, v) then that edge is a tree edge. (i.e the edges that are part of a depth-first forest G_{\pi}.
  2. Back Edges – Let u and v be vertices in a depth-first tree such that u is a descendant of v. An edge (u, v) connecting u to its ancestor v is a back-edge. In a directed graph, a self-loop is also a back-edge.
  3. Forward Edges – Non-tree edges that connect two vertices u and v such that v is a descendant of u in a depth-first tree.
  4. Cross Edges – All edges that are not tree edges, back edges or forward edges (i.e an edge that is not in any of the above three categories is a cross edge).

Let (u, v) be an edge explored by the depth-first search algorithm. The color of the vertex v indicates the type of edge (u, v) is:

  1. White – tree edge
  2. Gray – back edge
  3. Black – forward or cross edge

Note: I do not understand the proof of this relation between vertex color and type of edge properly myself. The book doesn’t deal with it very formally, in my opinion. Anyway, onto the next theorem.

Theorem 2: Let G be any undirected graph. In a depth-first search of G, every edge of G is either a tree edge or a back edge.

Proof: Let (u, v) be any edge in G. Suppose u.d < v.d (without loss of generality). Then before the algorithm finishes u, it must discover and finish v while the color of u remains gray, since v is in the adjacency list of u. If the direction of the edge (u, v) is from u to v the first time the algorithm explores it, then the vertex v has not been discovered before that time. This is true because if it had been discovered previously, the algorithm would have already explored the edge (u,v ) in the direction from v to u.

Since, at the time (u, v) is first explored, v is undiscovered, its color is white. Hence (u, v) becomes a tree edge. If the algorithm explores (u, v) first in the direction from v to u instead then, since the color of u is gray, the edge (u, v) becomes a back edge. \square

Algorithms Notes – Chapter 9



Depth-First Search – Analysis

Time Complexity

Let G = (V, E) be the graph on which the Depth-First Search algorithm gets executed. Not taking into account the time taken by DFS-VISIT, the time taken by DFS is essentially of the same order as the time taken by both the for loops in DFS. Since both for loops have time $latex\Theta(|V|)$, DFS takes time \Theta(|V|) if one excludes the calls to DFS-VISIT. Since DFS-VISIT is called exactly once for each vertex in the graph G, the for loop in DFS-VISIT executes Adj[v] times for any vertex v on which it is run. Hence (by the handshaking lemma) the total time for running DFS-VISIT on all vertices in G is \sum_{v \in V} = \Theta (|E|). Hence the time complexity of the algorithm is \Theta (|V| + |E|).

Paranthesis Theorem

Theorem: Let G = (V, E) be the graph on which the Depth-First Search algorithm gets executed. Let u and v be any two vertices in G. Exactly one of the following three conditions must hold:

  1. The intervals [u.d, u.f] and [v.d, v.f] are entirely disjoint and neither u nor v are descendants of each other in the depth-first forest.
  2. The interval [u.d, u.f] is contained entirely in the interval [v.d, v.f] and u is a descendant of v in a depth-first tree.
  3. The interval [v.d, v.f] is contained entirely in the interval [u.d, u.f] and v is a descendant of u in a depth-first tree.

Proof: Proof by case analysis. We begin with the case when u.d < v.d. There can be two subcases.

Subcase 1: v.d < u.f. This means that v was discovered when u was gray and, hence, v is a descendant of u. Since v was discovered after you, its adjacency list scan has to be completed before the search returns to scanning the adjacency list of u. Hence it must be true that v.f < u.f. In other words, case 2 of the theorem is true in this subcase.

Subcase 2: u.f < v.d. Since, in a depth first search, w.d < w.f for any vertex w searched by the algorithm, it must be true that u.d < u.f < v.d < v.f. This means that the intervals [u.d, u.f] and [v.d, v.f] are disjoint. Since the intervals are disjoint, neither of the two vertices was discovered while the other was gray. In other words, neither vertex is a descendant of the other.

The proof for the case when v.d < u.d is similar. \square

Corollary 1: Let v and u be any two vertices in a depth-first forest of a graph G. v is a proper descendant of u if and only if u.d < v.d < v.f < u.f.

Proof: Immediate from the paranthesis theorem. (Once again, don’t blame me for lack of explanation. Blame the textbook Introduction to Algorithms 3rd Edition by Cormen et al.).

Algorithms Notes – Chapter 8



Depth-First Search

One thing that is important to understand is that the Breadth-First Search algorithm generates a tree as it searches a graph (for a proof of this, refer to Lemma 22.6 in Chapter 22 of Introduction to Algorithms 3rd Edition by Cormen et al.). This is called a Breadth-First Tree. A Depth-First Search, on the other hand, does not generate a single tree. Instead, it generates several trees (called depth-first trees) and creates a depth-first forest.

Check this animation out to get a general understand of how a depth-first search works.

Here is the pseudocode for the Depth-First Search algorithm:

    for each vertex u ϵ G.V
        u.color = WHITE
        u.π = NIL
    time = 0
    for each vertex u ϵ G.V
        if u.color = WHITE
            DFS-VISIT(G, u)

    time = time + 1    // white vertex discovered
    u.d = time
    u.color = GRAY
    for each v ϵ G.Adj[u]  // explore edge (u, v)
        if v.color == WHITE
            v.π = u
            DFS-VISIT(G, v)
    u.color = BLACK       // u is finished. Mark it black.
    time = time + 1
    u.f = time


Most of the notation is very similar to that used in the Breadth-First Search pseudocode with one key difference. Let v be a vertex in G. The property v.d does not store the distance from the source, unlike in BFS. Instead it, along with the new property v.f store time-stamps.

  • v.d stores the time when the vertex v is discovered by the algorithm
  • v.f stores the time when the algorithm finishes scanning the adjacency list of v and sets its color to black.
  • The global variable time is used for the above described time-stamping.

The following two GIFs provide a good comparison between a BFS and a DFS.



Algorithms Notes – Chapter 7



Analysis of Breadth-First Search

Correctness – Continued

Note: An easier way to understand the following lemma is to realize that it shows that at any given time, the queue Q holds at most two distinct d values.

Lemma 3: Suppose during the execution of the algorithm, the queue Q contains the vertices \langle v_{1}, v_{2}, ... , v_{r} \rangle where v_{1} is the head of the queue and v_{r} is the tail. Then v_{r}.d \le v_{1}.d + 1 and v_{i}.d \le v_{i+1}.d for i = 1, 2, ... , r-1.

Proof: Proof by induction on queue operations.

Basis Step: Since the queue only contains s initially, the lemma is true. This completes the basis step.

Inductive Step: We need to prove that the lemma remains true after both enqueueing and dequeueing a vertex.

  • Dequeueing – If v_{1} was the head of the queue, now v_{2} will become the head (If v_{1} was the only element and hence the queue is empty now, the lemma holds vacuously). By the inductive hypothesis, v_{1}.d \le v_{2}.d. Also by the inductive hypothesis, v_{r}.d \le v_{1}.d + 1. Now since v_{r}.d \le v_{1}.d + 1 and v_{1}.d \le v_{2}.d, it is evident that v_{r}.d \le v_{2}.d + 1. Hence the lemma remains true.
  • Enqueueing – When a vertex v is enqueued in line 18 of the algorithm, it becomes v_{r+1}. Since we have already dequeued the vertex u whose adjacency list is being scanned, it must be true that v_{1}.d \ge u.d where v_{1}.d is the current head of the queue. Hence v_{r+1}.d = u.d + 1 \le v_{1}.d + 1. Since, by the inductive hypothesis, v_{r}.d \le u.d + 1 and we know that v_{r+1}.d = u.d + 1, it is true that v_{r}.d \le r_{r + 1}.d. Hence the lemma remains true.

This completes the inductive step. \square

Corollary 1: Let v_{i} and v_{j} be two vertices that are enqueued during the execution of the algorithm such that v_{i} is enqueued before v_{j}. Then v_{i}.d \le v_{j}.d at the time when v_{j} is enqueued.

Proof: It is evident from lemma 3 (this looks more like an assertion than a proof, I know. Blame the textbook Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen et al. not me).



We are, at last, ready to prove the correctness of the Breadth-First Search algorithm. *drumroll*

Theorem (Correction of BFS):

Let G = (V, E) be a directed or undirected graph. Suppose the algorithm is run on G with the vertex s as the source. Then

  1. During its execution, the algorithm discovers every vertex v in G that can be reached from the source s and, when the algorithm terminates, the distance of that vertex v.d equals the shortest path distance from s to v i.e \delta (s, v). and,
  2. For any vertex v other than the source vertex s that is reachable from s, one of the shortest paths from s to Slatex v$ is the shortest path from s to the parent of v: v.\pi plus the edge that connects v.\pi to v: (v.\pi, v).


Proof of 1- Proof by contradiction. Suppose a vertex v receives a d value such that v.d \not= \delta(s, v). Since, from line 7, s.d = 0 = \delta(s, s), it can be seen than v \not= s. By lemma 2, we know that v.d \ge \delta(s, v). Since v.d \not= \delta(s, v), it must be true that v.d > \delta(s, v). If v is not reachable from s, then \delta(s, v) = \infty and hence it must be true that v.d \le \delta(s, v) = \infty, which contradicts the above statement. Hence v must be a vertex that is reachable from s.

Let the vertex u be the predecessor of v on the shortest path from s to v. Then \delta(s, v) = \delta(s, v) + 1 = u.d + 1. Since v.d > \delta(s, v), we can infer the following inequality: v.d > \delta(u, v) + 1. We shall call this inequality P. When the vertex u is dequeued by the algorithm in line 12, v can have one of the three colors: white, gray or black. We need to prove that, in all three cases, we arrive at a contradiction to inequality P.

  1. If v is white, then line 16 sets the value of v.d to u.d + 1 which is the shortest path distance from s to v. Hence v.d = \delta(s, v), which contradicts P.
  2. If v is black then it has already been dequeued, which means it was enqueued before u was enqueued. By corollary 1, this implies than v.d \le u.d, which contradicts P.
  3. If v is gray then it was discovered while scanning the adjacency list of some vertex w which was dequeued before u. By corollary 1, this means that w.d \le u.d and, since w is the predecessor of v, that v.d = w.d + 1. Since w.d \le u.d, it is also true that w.d + 1 \le u.d + 1. Since v.d = w.d + 1 and \delta(s, v) = u.d + 1, this means that v.d \le \delta(s, v), which contradicts P.

Hence, at the termination of the algorithm, v.d = \delta(s, v) for every vertex v in G.

Suppose there is a vertex v in G such that it is reachable from s but not discovered by the algorithm. Then v.d = \infty and hence v.d > \delta(s, v). But we already established that v.d = \delta(s, v) hence this is a contradiction. Therefore all vertices that are reachable from s are discovered by the algorithm. \square

Proof of 2- If v.\pi = u, then v.d = u.d + 1. Therefore we can obtain a shortest path from s to v by taking the shortest path from s to v.\pi and then moving along that edge (v.\pi, v). \square

And voila, we have proved that the Breadth-First Search algorithm is correct. (whew, I’m exhausted. You’re welcome.)

Algorithms Notes – Chapter 6


Analysis of Breadth-First Search 

(Keep the pseudocode of the algorithm from the previous chapter somewhere handy)


Let G = (V, E) be the input graph for the algorithm.

Time Complexity: We know that the algorithm never sets the color of a vertex to white after initialization hence the if condition in line 14 ensures that every vertex is enqueued at most once. If a vertex is enqueued at most once then it is dequeued at most once. Since the enqueuing and dequeuing operations take \mathcal{O}(1) time, the total time required for queueing all the vertices is \mathcal{O}(|V|). We also know that the algorithms scan the adjacency list of each vertex only after it is dequeued. Since a vertex is dequeued at most once, every adjacency list is scanned at most once. The same of the lenghts of all the adjacency lists is \Theta(|E|) (see handshaking lemma). Hence the time for initialization is \mathcal{O}|V| and the time for running the algorithm is \mathcal{O}|E|. Therefore the time complexity of the algorithm can be expressed as \mathcal{O}(|V| + |E|).

Space Complexity: Since we are using adjacency lists to represent the graph, the space complexity of the algorithm is \mathcal{O}(|V| + |E|).


We shall prove the correctness of the Breadth-First Search algorithm by proving that it correctly calculates shortest path distances.

Definition: The shortest-path distance \delta (u, v) between any two vertices u and v in a graph is the minimum number of edges between any path from u to v in the graph. If no path from u to v exists, then we say that \delta(u, v) = \infty.

Lemma 1: Let G = (V, E)  be the input graph (it can be either directed or undirected, doesn’t matter) and let s be any vertex in G. Then for any edge (u, v) in G, it is true that \delta(s, v) \le \delta(s, u) + 1.

Proof: If a path exists from s to u then, since there is the edge (u, v), there is also path from s to v. Since there is an edge between u and v, the shortest path between s and v cannot be longer than one edge more than the shortest path between s and u. If there is no path between s and u, then \delta(u, v) = \infty, in which case the inequality obviously holds. \square

Obligatory Math Terminology Comic

Lemma 2: Let G = (V, E) be the input graph (once again, it can be either directed or undirected) and let s be any vertex in $latexc G$. Let BFS be run on G with s as the source. Upon termination, for each vertex v in G, it is true that v.d \ge \delta(s, v).

Proof: Proof by Induction on vertices with the inductive hypothesis being: v.d \ge \delta(s, v) for all $v \in V$.

Basis Step: When Q contains only s, the inductive hypothesis is true since s.d = 0 = \delta(s, s) and for any other vertex v, v.d = \infty \ge \delta(s, v). This completes the basis step.

Inductive Step: Let v be a white vertex that is discovered after scanning the adjacency list of a vertex u. From line 16, we know that, v.d is set to u.d + 1. From the inductive hypothesis, we know that u.d \ge \delta(s, u) and hence u.d + 1 \ge \delta(s, u) + 1. Since v.d = u.d + 1, this implies that v.d \ge \delta(s, u) + 1. By lemma 1, we know that \delta(s, u) + 1 \ge \delta(s, v) and since v.d \ge \delta(s, u) + 1, it is evident that v.d \ge \delta(s, v). This completes the inductive step. \square

I’ll continue the proof for correctness in the next chapter.

Happy New Year, by the way.


Algorithms Notes – Chapter 5

Obligatory Algorithm Comic

Graph Algorithms – Breadth First Search

The following GIF I got off of wikipedia will give you a general idea of how a Breadth-First Search works:


Also, take a look at this animation.

Here is the pseudocode for the Breadth-First Search (BFS) algorithm:

BFS(G, s)
    for each vertex u ϵ G.V - {s}
        u.color = WHITE
        u.d = ∞
        u.π = NIL
    s.color = GRAY
    s.d = 0
    s.π = NIL
    Q = Ø
    ENQUEUE(Q, s)
    while Q ≠ Ø
        u = DEQUEUE(Q)
        for each v ϵ G.Adj[u]
            if v.color == WHITE
                v.color = GRAY
                v.d = u.d + 1
                v.π = u
                ENQUEUE(Q, v)
        u.color = BLACK


  • G – the graph
  • s – the root of the graph
  • v.\pi – predecessor (or parent) of vertex v.
  • v.d – distance between the vertex v and the root s.
  • v.color – the color of the vertex v. It is white if v is undiscovered, gray if it is discovered. A vertex is black if all vertices adjacent to it have also been discovered.
  • Q a queue that contains all the gray vertices.

A breadth-first search can correctly calculate the shortest path between two given vertices in a graph (assuming a path exists). We will prove this in the next chapter when we analyse the Breadth-First Search algorithm.

Algorithms Notes – Chapter 4



Graph Algorithms

Over the next few chapters, we will learn and analyse the following two graph algorithms:

  • Breadth First Search (BFS)
  • Depth First Search (DFS)

Representation of Graphs

In computer science, it is common to represent graphs in one of two ways.

  1. Adjacency List
  2. Adjacency Matrix

An adjacency list of a graph G = (V, E) is written as G.Adj.It is an array that contains a list of vertices adjacent to the vertex in the index. In other words, let u be a vertex of G. G.Adj[u] will then consist of all the vertices that are adjacent to u in G.

An adjacency matrix is a matrix defined in the following way. Let 1, 2, ... , |V| be any arbitrary ordering of the vertices in G. The a_{ij}th element of the adjacency matrix that represents G has a value of 1 if there exists an edge between the vertices i and j (i.e (i, j) \in E) and has a value of 0 otherwise.

The following figure shows both the adjacency list and adjacency matrix for a graph: