A Framework for Defining Network Complexity

The information below is for an old version of the document
Document Type Expired Internet-Draft (individual)
Authors Michael Behringer  , Alvaro Retana  , Russ White  , Geoff Huston 
Last updated 2016-04-08 (latest revision 2015-10-06)
Replaces draft-retana-network-complexity-framework, draft-irtf-ncrg-complexity-framework, draft-irtf-ncrg-network-design-complexity
Stream ISE
Intended RFC status Informational
Expired & archived
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IETF conflict review conflict-review-behringer-ncrg-complexity-framework
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This Internet-Draft is no longer active. A copy of the expired Internet-Draft can be found at


Complexity is a widely used parameter in network design, yet there is no generally accepted definition of the term. Complexity metrics exist in a wide range of research papers, but most of these address only a particular aspect of a network, for example the complexity of a graph or software. While it may be impossible to define a metric for overall network complexity, there is a desire to better understand the complexity of a network as a whole, as deployed today to provide Internet services. This document provides a framework to guide research on the topic of network complexity, as well as some practical examples for trade-offs in networking. This document summarizes the work of the IRTF's Network Complexity Research Group (NCRG) at the time of its closure. It does not present final results, but a snapshot of an ongoing activity, as a basis for future work.


Michael Behringer (mbehring@cisco.com)
Alvaro Retana (aretana@cisco.com)
Russ White (russw@riw.us)
Geoff Huston (gih@apnic.net)

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)