Transmission Control Protocol, better known as TCP, is one of the core systems that manages Internet traffic and prevents congestion. It regulates the rate at which computers send data and, if you consider it a computer program, it’s the most widely used program in the world.
While TCP does a decent job of keeping the Web unclogged, a group of MIT researchers have designed a potential alternative to TCP called Remy, a software that automatically generates complex algorithms to deliver Internet speeds up to two or three times faster than normal connections. TCP algorithms are generated by humans.
With Remy, users answer a few questions, such as how many people will use the connection, what it will be used for. For example, an IT staffer setting up a network for a large company that frequently relies on international video conferencing is going to require much more bandwidth than the average Internet user who just wants to browse individual Web pages. And an online gamer might prefer data speed over volume to ensure there are no glitches in game play, while two collaborating musicians on opposite sides of the country might choose a bigger data payload, allowing them to send each other large, multiple audio files.
Those variables are then fed into Remy’s machine-learning algorithms that explore further variations across a wide range of network conditions in order to find the fastest performance. In simulations, algorithms produced by Remy significantly outperformed algorithms devised by human engineers. In fact, they doubled throughput and showed two-thirds less of a delay on computer connections, plus a 20 to 30 percent increase in throughput for a cellular network, with 25 to 40 percent less delay.
The downside is that Remy hasen’t yet been tested on a real Internet and in simulations the network diagnostics took four to 12 hours. That may sound like an eternity, but keep in mind the software is still a work in progress. Even so, I could see running this task before going to bed and waking up in the morning to find a faster Internet connection.