Tree based MPLS routing

Anupam Gupta, Amit Kumar, Mikkel Thorup

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) is a new technology proposed by the IETF for network routing, and is being increasingly deployed by the largest Internet service providers. The MPLS technology differs from conventional network protocols in a crucial way: instead of reading the entire packet header at all switching points, the analysis of the packet header is done just once, when the packet header is assigned a stack of labels, and thenceforth, each switching point or router just gets to look at the label at the top of the stack (and the ingress edge), and based only on this information, it has to make a decision about the next-hop node. In another departure from conventional routing and in particular from IP source routing, where the entire packet route is explicitly put in the header and popped off along the route, the router can not only pop the top label, it can push other labels on top of the stack. The two parameters of interest in designing MPLS routing protocols are the number of labels used, and the depth of the stack used for routing. Clearly, both cannot be simultaneously minimized, and there is often an interesting trade-off between label size and stack depth: it is obvious that if k labels are used, one must have a stack depth of logk n. In fact, it was not known whether this bound could be achieved even for trees; the best stack depth previously achieved with a constant number of labels was O(log2 n). In this paper, we show that one can indeed get asymptotically optimal upper bounds and route on trees using k labels and a maximum stack depth of O (logk n), and that this trade-off can be achieved using a simpler and more intuitive protocol than the one given in [9]. These tree-routing ideas are then shown to give better routing protocols for planar graphs as well. In particular, we show how to route along near-shortest paths (of length at most (1+ε) times the shortest-path) with O(log2 n/ε) labels and logarithmic stack depth. We also apply them to graphs with smaller separators, including most large ISP networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2003
EventFifteenth Annual ACM Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures - San Diego, SA, United States
Duration: Jun 7 2003Jun 9 2003


ConferenceFifteenth Annual ACM Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, SA


  • MPLS routing
  • Networks
  • Routing algorithms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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