SDN flow entry management using reinforcement learning

Ting Yu Mu, Ala Al-Fuqaha, Khaled Shuaib, Farag M. Sallabi, Junaid Qadir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Modern information technology services largely depend on cloud infrastructures to provide their services. These cloud infrastructures are built on top of Datacenter Networks (DCNs) constructed with high-speed links, fast switching gear, and redundancy to offer better flexibility and resiliency. In this environment, network traffic includes long-lived (elephant) and short-lived (mice) flows with partitioned/aggregated traffic patterns. Although SDN-based approaches can efficiently allocate networking resources for such flows, the overhead due to network reconfiguration can be significant. With limited capacity of Ternary Content- Addressable Memory (TCAM) deployed in an OpenFlow enabled switch, it is crucial to determine which forwarding rules should remain in the flow table and which rules should be processed by the SDN controller in case of a table-miss on the SDN switch. This is needed in order to obtain the flow entries that satisfy the goal of reducing the long-term control plane overhead introduced between the controller and the switches. To achieve this goal, we propose a machine learning technique that utilizes two variations of Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms-the first of which is a traditional RL-based algorithm, while the other is deep reinforcement learning-based. Emulation results using the RL algorithm show around 60% improvement in reducing the long-term control plane overhead and around 14% improvement in the table-hit ratio compared to the Multiple Bloom Filters (MBF) method, given a fixed size flow table of 4KB.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA11
JournalACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Flow entry
  • MiniNet
  • Openflow
  • big data
  • elephant and mice flows
  • machine learning
  • reinforcement learning
  • software defined networking (SDN)
  • ternary content addressable memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Software


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