Contextually aware information routing in a peer-to-peer network

Adding context to ad-hoc mobile networks increases the efficiency of the network during busy times


Peer-to-peer (P2P) computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads between peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the application. They are said to form a P2P network of nodes. P2P networks can be quickly set up, run wirelessly, and used in tactical, emergency, or sensor applications.

Peers make a portion of their resources, such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth, directly available to other network participants, without the need for central coordination by servers or stable hosts. Peers are both suppliers and consumers of resources, in contrast to the traditional client-server model in which the consumption and supply of resources is divided. The most common type of structured P2P networks implement a distributed hash table (DHT) model to assign ownership of each file to a particular peer. This enables peers to search for resources on the network using a hash table: that is, (key, value) pairs are stored in the DHT, and any participating node can efficiently retrieve the value associated with a given key.

However, in order to route traffic efficiently through the P2P network, nodes must maintain lists of neighbors that satisfy specific criteria. This makes them less robust in networks with a high rate of churn (networks with large numbers of nodes frequently joining and leaving the network). Recent evaluation of P2P resource discovery solutions under real workloads have pointed out several issues in DHT-based solutions such as the high cost of advertising/discovering resources.

Army researchers have tackled this issue by adding contextual awareness to a P2P network. When routing information along the peer-to-peer network, contextual information for the network (such as devices of the network, locations of nodes, locations of users, distances, links, bandwidths, qualify of service, connectivity, preferences, functionalities, features, or security requirements) can be used to determine how to route the information, such as when the network is faced with high usage rates. Contextual awareness added to a key-based distributed hash table routing algorithm provides greater efficiency in routing traffic.

The Army’s P2P ad hoc network comprises various nodes (devices) that communicate with one another. These nodes can move independently, enter and leave the network on their own at various and sometimes unexpected times, and have individual characteristics such as reliability, security, and importance.

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