Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
A new packet routing model proposed by the Internet Engineering Task Force is MultiProtocol Label Switching, or MPLS [B. Davie and Y. Rekhter, MPLS: Technology and Applications, Morgan Kaufmann (Elsevier), New York, 2000]. Instead of each router's parsing the packet network layer header and doing its lookups based on that analysis (as in much of conventional packet routing), MPLS ensures that the analysis of the header is performed just once. The packet is then assigned a stack of labels, where the labels are usually much smaller than the packet headers themselves. When a router receives a packet, it examines the label at the top of the label stack and makes the decision of where the packet is forwarded based solely on that label. It can pop the top label off the stack if it so desires, and can also push some new labels onto the stack, before forwarding the packet. This scheme has several advantages over conventional routing protocols, the two primary ones being (a) reduced amount of header analysis at intermediate routers, which allows for faster switching times, and (b) better traffic engineering capabilities and hence easier handling of quality of service issues. However, essentially nothing is known at a theoretical level about the performance one can achieve with this protocol, or about the intrinsic trade-offs in its use of resources.
SIAM J. Comput. , 34, 2, 453-474.