Optical flow switching has recently emerged as a promising new approach to address the exponentially growing traffic demands in optical networks. In order to realize this new paradigm for optical networks, the core network must be capable of wavelength reconfiguration and service provisioning on time scales approaching one second or faster. The present methods used in wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) optical transmission are designed for static wavelength channels, which can increase in number over time and may be configurable to form different paths at the time of provisioning. Provisioning new wavelengths is a methodical, one at a time, step-wise process of ?turning up? the optical signal along the path, which requires minutes to hours in order to achieve the final stable state, appropriate for GMPLS networks. Furthermore, the extensive literature on optical transmission assumes this quasi-static network environment.

The intellectual merit of this project will be to determine both the practical and fundamental limitations on optical flow switched networks imposed by physical layer constraints, including optical transmission in a dynamic, wavelength switching environment. This goal is particularly challenging because of the multi-layer nature of the problem. The network topology and signaling protocols will dictate physical layer transmission requirements, such as how fast the optical signal must achieve an error free condition and over what transmission distance. Likewise the physical limitations both in terms of performance and cost will motivate design choices for the architectures and protocols. In order to address the multi-layer nature of optical flow switched networks, this GOALI project is proposed as a mechanism to utilize the novel optically transparent mesh network testbed facility within Bell Laboratories to extend the network architecture activities within the NSF funded NeTS-FIND Future Optical Network Architectures program at MIT. In particular, targeted experiments will be conducted in the testbed in conjunction with the optical flow switched network optimization studies at MIT. This new testbed has recently been used to study both the power dynamics and the transmission performance of signals in reconfigurable optical networks. These two elements are essential for understanding the physical layer in a transparent switched network and this facility is unique in that it combines these in a broadband, long haul transmission configuration, typical of core networks.

This university-industry collaboration will have broader impact at many levels. The problem of scaling optical networks to serve the dramatic rise in internet traffic has broad social ramifications. The project will enable cooperation between two synergistic research efforts to address this important problem: at MIT and at Bell Labs. The academic participants will have the opportunity to work in a premier industrial research laboratory and benefit from the knowledge and skills specific to that environment. In the process, the program will provide a unique opportunity to merge the traditions within both organizations of promoting individual driven

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Joseph Lyles
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States
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