Network coordinates would be less useful if a large number of dimensions were needed to capture the inter-node latencies of the Internet. Tang and Crovella used Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to hint at the number of dimensions required to encompass this information for several small data sets . Because we wanted to know if few dimensions would be sufficient for a large, broad spectrum of endpoints, we used the same method to examine the intrinsic dimensionality of Azureus.
PCA is a linear transformation from one coordinate system to a new, orthogonal coordinate system. The new system is chosen such that each subsequent axis captures the maximum possible remaining variance in projections from points in the old system to points in the new: the first new axis captures the most variance, the second less, and so on. While an input system of k elements will produce an output system also of k elements, often only the first several dimensions of the output system will summarize all or part of the same distance information of the original set of points. Singular values are a result of the PCA transformation: each new axis has a corresponding singular value that describes the amount of variance captured by this axis. Thus, if a singular value is very small or zero, this suggests that this axis is unnecessary in describing the variance in a particular data set.
Because PCA requires a full matrix, we first used the following two techniques to fill in the remaining 9 percent of the Azureus matrix and the missing percent of the MIT matrix. We filled half of the missing Azureus values with the King technique  (King fails in certain cases, e.g., when the endpoint cannot be resolved). We interpolated the remaining values in both matrices by embedding each matrix and extracting the missing values.
We use a scree plot to illustrate how much variance each new singular value is capturing, which in turn hints at the inherent dimensionality of the underlying data set. The independent variables of a scree plot are the singular values, sorted by their magnitude; the dependent variables are their corresponding magnitudes. At the point where the magnitude of the singular values becomes zero or nearly zero, the relative importance of this and subsequent singular values (i.e., dimensions) is low. Up to this point, these dimensions are necessary to capture the values in the original input matrix, which in this case is made up of inter-node latency values.
We show the normalized singular values for the King, PlanetLab, and Azureus data sets in Figure 4. For comparison, we created synthetic 5d and 10d systems each containing 250 random points in a unit hypercube and found their singular values. As one would expect, the synthetic 5d and 10d data sets show a sharp knee soon after 5 and 10 singular values, respectively. In contrast, the bulk of the inter-node latency information from two Internet-based data sets requires very few dimensions. Azureus, in particular, is dominated by a single dimension, and MIT King by two. However, the next several dimensions remain significant for the few nodes that need to navigate around the clusters of nodes that have found good positions. In the data, this is shown by the continued relevance of singular values when compared to synthetic data sets. To lower the error for these nodes, we find 4-5 dimensions is appropriate for Internet-scale network coordinates. While the previous two characteristics, round trip times and violations of the triangle inequality, suggest that the Azureus latency distribution will experience higher error than MIT King, its intrinsic dimensionality does not appear to be an additional impediment.
Jonathan Ledlie 2007-02-23