A novel combinatorial multi-armed bandit game to identify online the changing top-K flows in software-defined networks

Identifying the top-K flows that require much more bandwidth resources in a large-scale Software-Defined Network (SDN) is essential for many network management tasks, such as load balancing, anomaly detection, and traffic engineering. However, identifying such top-K flows is not trivial, not only because of the fluctuations in flow bandwidth requirements but also because of the combinatorial explosion of problem instance sizes. In this paper, we weaken the tradeoff between exploration and exploitation and innovatively define the online top-K flows identification problem as identifying the top-K arms in a Combinatorial Multi-Armed Bandit (CMAB) model. Then, we propose a general greedy selection mechanism with some identification strategies that focus on temporal variations in the rewards. Extensive simulation experiments based on real traffic data are conducted to evaluate the performance of different strategies. In addition, the results of numerical simulations demonstrate that our proposed greedy selection mechanism significantly outperforms existing counterparts on top-K arms identification.