Self-Similarity in World Wide Web Traffic: Evidence and Possible Causes
Mark E. Crovella
Recently the notion of self-similarity has been shown to apply to wide-area and local-area network traffic. In this paper we examine the mechanisms that give rise to the self-similarity of network traffic. We present a hypothesized explanation for the possible self-similarity of traffic by using a particular subset of wide area traffic: traffic due to the World Wide Web (WWW). Using an extensive set of traces of actual user executions of NCSA Mosaic, reflecting over half a million requests for WWW documents, we examine the dependence structure of WWW traffic. While our measurements are not conclusive, we show evidence that WWW traffic exhibits behavior that is consistent with self-similar traffic models. Then we show that the self-similarity insuch traffic can be explained based on the underlying distributions of WWW document sizes, the effects of caching and user preference in le transfer, the effect of user "think time", and the superimposition of many such transfers in a local area network. To do this we rely on empirically measured distributions both from our traces and from data independently collected at over thirty WWW sites.