Scientists tackling Internet’s ‘black holes’

April 9th, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 9 (IANS) You might have heard of distant black holes swallowing up light or crunching ship-sized objects into tiny teaspoon replicas. But what about black holes in cyberspace, here on earth every day? At any given moment, a portion of the vast computer traffic disappears into these vast sinks, out of reach or trace. Try logging into the web. It could be a very frustrating experience.

Now a new system named Hubble, devised by University of Washington researchers and named after the famous space telescope, precisely tracks such black holes and maps them on a website, providing an ever-changing constellation of the Internet’s weak points.

Research on the net’s structure and performance is also described as Internet astronomy. Hubble lets visitors see a map of problems worldwide or type in a specific web page or network address to check its status.

The unique, online global map, updated every 15 minutes, flagging locations experiencing problems and listing numerical address for the group of computers affected. Each address comprises a few hundred to a few thousand individual computers. Hubble also reports what percentage of test probes was successful, and how long each problem has persisted.

The researchers found that more than seven percent of computers worldwide experienced this type of error at least once during a three-week period.

“When we started this project, we really didn’t expect to find so many problems,” said Arvind Krishnamurthy of the university. “We were very surprised by the results we got.”

A slew of academic, industrial and government computers worldwide have made Hubble’s virtual eye possible.

The work is being presented next week in San Francisco at the Usenix Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

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