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Search: TCP Traffic Patterns Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia TCP Traffic Patterns

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The TCP protocol specification [TCP:1] gives the implementor much freedom in designing the algorithms that control the message flow over the connection -- packetizing, managing the window, sending acknowledgments, etc. These design decisions are difficult because a TCP must adapt to a wide range of traffic patterns. Experience has shown that a TCP implementor needs to verify the design on two extreme traffic patterns:

  • Single-character Segments

    Even if the sender is using the Nagle Algorithm, when a TCP connection carries remote login traffic across a low-delay LAN the receiver will generally get a stream of single-character segments. If remote terminal echo mode is in effect, the receiver's system will generally echo each character as it is received.

  • Bulk Transfer

    When TCP is used for bulk transfer, the data stream should be made up (almost) entirely of segments of the size of the effective MSS. Although TCP uses a sequence number space with byte (octet) granularity, in bulk-transfer mode its operation should be as if TCP used a sequence space that counted only segments.

Experience has furthermore shown that a single TCP can effectively and efficiently handle these two extremes.

The most important tool for verifying a new TCP implementation is a packet trace program. There is a large volume of experience showing the importance of tracing a variety of traffic patterns with other TCP implementations and studying the results carefully.

Next: Efficiency

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia TCP Traffic Patterns


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