Mitigating Routing Update Overhead for Traffic Engineering by Combining Destination-Based Routing With Reinforcement Learning

Minghao Ye, Yang Hu, Junjie Zhang, Zehua Guo, H. Jonathan Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traffic Engineering (TE) is a widely-adopted network operation to optimize network performance and resource utilization. Destination-based routing is supported by legacy routers and more readily deployed than flow-based routing, where the forwarding entries could be frequently updated by TE to accommodate traffic dynamics. However, as the network size grows, destination-based TE could render high time complexity when generating and updating many forwarding entries, which may limit the responsiveness of TE and degrade network performance. In this paper, we propose a novel destination-based TE solution called FlexEntry, which leverages emerging Reinforcement Learning (RL) to reduce the time complexity and routing update overhead while achieving good network performance simultaneously. For each traffic matrix, FlexEntry only updates a few forwarding entries called critical entries for redistributing a small portion of the total traffic to improve network performance. These critical entries are intelligently selected by RL with traffic split ratios optimized by Linear Programming (LP). We find out that the combination of RL and LP is very effective. Our simulation results on six real-world network topologies show that FlexEntry reduces up to 99.3% entry updates on average and generalizes well to unseen traffic matrices with near-optimal load balancing performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2662-2677
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Costs
  • Delays
  • Destination-based Routing
  • Linear Programming
  • Linear programming
  • Optimization
  • Reinforcement Learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Routing
  • Routing protocols
  • Routing Update Overhead
  • Traffic Engineering
  • linear programming
  • routing update overhead
  • traffic engineering
  • destination-based routing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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