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Modeling and simulation of computer networks and systems : methodologies and applications
Obaidat M., Zarai F., Nicopolitidis P., Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc., Waltham, MA, 2015. 964 pp. Type: Book (978-0-128008-87-4)
Date Reviewed: Oct 27 2015

Modeling and simulation are often crucial steps in understanding systems. By modeling a system before it is built, we can often get clues about problems, inefficiencies, and weaknesses. Even when the models are flawed, they can provide hints about how best to approach problems. And sometimes, the process of building a good model or simulation can itself produce insights into the process being modeled.

This volume targets “the student community” with a secondary focus on the research community and “practitioners in government agencies.” It consists of a set of readings on modeling and simulation, mostly in the field of computer networks. There are 30 chapters, roughly divided in five sections (not all chapters are listed here).

“Protocols and Services in Computer Networks and Systems” includes chapters from a variety of authors on protocol performance evaluation, network planning, and other network protocol questions.

“Approaches in Performance Evaluation” has chapters on generating workloads for performance evaluation, evaluating performance with network simulation, and web performance evaluation.

“Modeling Approaches of Computer Networks and Systems” has chapters on self-similarity of traffic, performance evaluation and Petri nets, and Markov chain models.

“Simulation Methodologies in Computer Networks and Systems” covers trends in network simulators simulating wireless systems, and simulation methods.

“Next Generation Wireless Networks Evaluations” includes coverage of the ns-3 simulator, performance evaluation of next-generation networks, and evolutionary algorithms for resource allocation in wireless networks and software-defined wireless networks.

“Modeling and Simulation for System Security” has chapters on denial of service (DoS) detection in wireless sensor networks, formal methods of attack modeling, and security analysis of computer networks.

There are several nice chapters. One on network modeling has a nice (though necessarily short) discussion of simulation and modeling methods. Another chapter covers much of the same material--this happens several times in the book. The chapter on evolutionary algorithms for resource allocation was also interesting, though it presented more results than methods (which would be appropriate for a student-oriented book). Finally, the chapter on formal methods of attack modeling was interesting, though it did not provide any real depth on the topic. Most chapters include good multi-page reference sections that seem to point to good source material.

While the authors claim that this book is aimed at students, it is rather too scattershot and repetitive to be of real use in an educational setting. Chapters on basic simulation are mixed in with chapters on research results. Material is repeated or skimmed over. Surely it would have been better to include fewer chapters with more organization of the material. Discrete event simulation only needs to be covered once, but probably in more depth. Performance evaluation methods need to be covered in depth, once. Discussion of how results are evaluated is rather more important for students than the results.

Researchers are likely to know much of the material and seek out results and methods in other ways--through more focused research papers and access to modeling and simulation software.

None of the chapters are without interest, but as a whole the book is likely to be neither particularly interesting nor informative for most students, and will not be a tempting textbook for most instructors or researchers.

The process of modeling and simulation can be fun and informative and can provide insight, as well as help the modeler get an intuitive feel for the system in question and hint at directions for further exploration. Ideally, a book on the topic would inspire readers to go off and try things; this one does not.

Finally, it is telling that the preface contains the following disclaimer: “We would like to state that, as the individual chapters of this book were written by different authors, the responsibility of each chapter lies with the respective authors.”

Reviewer:  Jeffrey Putnam Review #: CR143884 (1601-0039)
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