Flow Rate Fairness: Dismantling a Religion

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Last updated 2007-07-11
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Resource allocation and accountability have been major unresolved problems with the Internet ever since its inception. The reason we never resolve these issues is a broken idea of what the problem is. The applied research and standards communities are using completely unrealistic and impractical fairness criteria. The resulting mechanisms don't even allocate the right thing and they don't allocate it between the right entities. We explain as bluntly as we can that thinking about fairness mechanisms like TCP in terms of sharing out flow rates has no intellectual heritage from any concept of fairness in philosophy or social science, or indeed real life. Comparing flow rates should never again be used for claims of fairness in production networks. Instead, we should judge fairness mechanisms on how they share out the `cost' of each user's actions on others.


Bob Briscoe (bob.briscoe@bt.com)

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