On the characteristics of internet traffic variability: Spikes and elephants

Tatsuya Mori*, Ryoichi Kawahara, Shozo Naito, Shigeki Goto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Analysing and modeling of traffic play a vital role in designing and controlling of networks effectively. To construct a practical traffic model that can be used for various networks, it is necessary to characterize aggregated traffic and user traffic. This paper investigates these characteristics and their relationship. Our analyses are based on a huge number of packet traces from five different networks on the Internet. We found that: (1) marginal distributions of aggregated traffic fluctuations follow positively skewed (non-Gaussian) distributions, which leads to the existence of "spikes", where spikes correspond to an extremely large value of momentary throughput, (2) the amount of user traffic in a unit of time has a wide range of variability, and (3) flows within spikes are more likely to be "elephant flows", where an elephant flow is an IP flow with a high volume of traffic. These findings are useful in constructing a practical and realistic Internet traffic model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2644-2653
Number of pages10
JournalIEICE Transactions on Information and Systems
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Dec


  • Analysis
  • Elephant flow
  • Measurement
  • Spikes
  • Traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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