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Organic Network Control (ONC)

Bild Organic Network Control (ONC) Bild Organic Network Control (ONC)

Bild Organic Network Control (ONC)

The development of networking during the past decades shows that the number of protocols being proposed for different applications on all layers has increased largely. This is partly due to the ubiquitous availability of networked devices for a wide spectrum of applications and ranges from classical desktops and servers in wired networks to small handheld and embedded devices in wireless networks, such as mobile phones and sensor nodes. This development is accompanied by the users’ requirements of a better convergence of all these networks and applications.

Most protocols offer a large number of parameters that allow for adapting them to different usage scenarios, e.g. they allow for changing settings for timeouts, number of nodes to connect with, and retransmission counters. However, these parameters are seldom changed at runtime. Instead, they are mostly investigated and set at design time or – at best – changed manually at runtime. This leads to a rather static configuration even though the situation in the network is constantly changing. These dynamics are not only characterized by changes in, for example, available bandwidth, network topology, and channel quality over time: Additionally, new applications – and protocols respectively – are introduced. The class of Peer-to-Peer applications is probably one of the most dynamic classes of applications contributing to the changes in the protocol landscape during the past years. In essence, well established protocols, e.g., for Web traffic, have to co-exist with protocols that no one would have thought of some years back in the first place.

During the past years, the Organic Computing (OC) Initiative has proposed a number of techniques, architectures, and algorithms that support the development of complex systems. One of the key ideas is that the complexity of (current and) future systems, such as the Internet, does not allow for a design-time-only approach when it comes to, for example, testing and optimization. Instead the OC approach provides means for building systems that adapt and improve at runtime, using for example machine learning techniques. This also includes the seamless integration of new components, for example, protocols, into an existing system and is frequently referred to as Self-Organization.

The Organic Network Control (ONC) system is a three-layered Observer/Controller architecture that allows for “wrapping” existing protocols into a framework which enables a large degree of Self-Organization in existing networks. The architecture has a generic character: it has also been applied to other scenarios like, e.g., vehicular traffic control.


  • [1] Sven Tomforde, Emre Cakar, Jörg Hähner; "Dynamic Control of Network Protocols - A new vision for future self-organised networks", Proc. of the 6th Int. Conf. on Informatics in Control, Automation, and Robotics (ICINCO'09)
  • [2] Sven Tomforde, Marcel Steffen, Jörg Hähner, Christian Müller-Schloer; "Towards an Organic Network Control System", Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Autonomic and Trusted Computing (ATC'09)
  • [3] Sven Tomforde, Martin Hoffmann, Yvonne Bernard, Lukas Klejnowski, Jörg Hähner; "POWEA: A System for Automated Network Protocol Parameter Optimisation Using Evolutionary Algorithms", 39. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI'09)

Completed Theses

  • Fabian Brammer, "Entwicklung und Evaluierung eines lernfähigen und simulationsbasierten Systems zur Optimierung von Netzwerkparametern"
  • Christoph König, "Analyse und Umsetzung von kollaborativem Lernen in einem verteilten Netzwerksteuerungssystem"
  • Björn Hurling, "Bewertung und Implementierung von verschiedenen Lernverfahren zur automatischen Optimierung von Netzwerkprotokollparametern"
  • Ioannis Zgeras, "Entwurf und Implementierung einer agentenbasierten Simulationsumgebung für adaptive und robuste Sensornetzprotokolle"