On the Time Synchronization of Distributed Log Files in Networks with Local Broadcast Media

Author: Jarre, F., Kiess, W., Mauve, M., Roos, M., & Scheuermann, B.
Published in: IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, 17(2), 431-444
Year: 2009
Type: Academic articles

Real-world experiments in computer networks typically result in a set of log files, one for each system involved in the experiment. Each log file contains event timestamps based on the local clock of the respective system. These clocks are not perfectly accurate, and deviate from each other. For a thorough analysis, however, a common time basis is necessary. In this paper, we tackle the fundamental problem of creating such a common time base for experiments in networks with local broadcast media, where transmissions can be received by more than one node. We show how clock deviations and event times can be estimated with very high accuracy, without introducing any additional traffic in the network. The proposed method is applied after the experiment is completed, using just the set of local log files as its input. It leads to a large linear program with a very specific structure. We exploit the structure to solve the synchronization problem quickly and efficiently, and present an implementation of a specialized solver. Furthermore, we give analytical and numerical evaluation results and present real-world experiments, all underlining the performance and accuracy of the method.

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