MIT speeds up browser loads with travelling salesperson

Dogcart3Researchers at MIT have worked out a way to download webpages 34 percent faster.

As websites become more complex, they take longer to load so MIT has been working on a new method which allows browsers gather files more efficiently.

Ravi Netravali, one of the researchers, in a press release said that the bottleneck is caused by the fact that pages require multiple trips that create delays.

The new approach called Polaris minimises the number of round trips so that we can substantially speed up a page’s load-time.

Dubbed Polaris it was developed by the University’s at Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It logs all the dependencies and inter-dependencies on a web page. It compiles all of these into a graph for the page that a browser can use to download page elements more efficiently. The researchers liken it to the work of travelling salesperson.

When you visit one city, you sometimes discover more cities you have to visit before going home. If someone gave you the entire list of cities ahead of time, you could plan the fastest possible route. Without the list, though, you have to discover new cities as you go, which results in unnecessary zig-zagging between far-away cities, they said.

For a web browser, loading all of a page’s objects is like visiting all of the cities. Polaris effectively gives you a list of all the cities before your trip actually begins.

The team’s tested the system on 200 different websites, including ESPN, Weather.com, and Wikipedia. On average, it was able to load web pages 34 percent faster than a standard browser. The work will be presented later this week at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

Polaris is written in JavaScript which means it can be introduced to any website—it’d just have to be running on the server in question, so it’d automatically kick in for any page load—and used with unmodified browsers.
In the long term it could be integrated into the browsers where it could “enable additional optimizations that can further accelerate page loads.