Using Self-Delimiting Numeric Values in Protocols

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Last updated 2007-07-08
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Self-Delimiting Numeric Values (SDNVs) have recently been introduced as a field type within proposed Delay-Tolerant Networking protocols. The basic goal of an SDNV is to hold a non-negative integer value of arbitrary magnitude, without consuming much more space than necessary. The primary motivation is to conserve the bits sent across low-capacity or energy-intensive links typical of NASA deep- space missions, with a secondary goal of allowing the protocol to automatically adjust to unforseen usage scenarios. This can be desirable in that it allows protocol designers to avoid making difficult and potentially erroneous engineering decisions that may have to be hacked around in the future. This document describes formats and algorithms for SDNV encoding and decoding, and discusses implementation and usage of SDNVs.


Wesley Eddy (

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