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Network Working Group C. Villamizar Request for Comments: 2439 ANS Category: Standards Track R. Chandra

                                                            R. Govindan
                                                          November 1998
                       BGP Route Flap Damping

Status of this Memo

 This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
 Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
 improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
 Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
 and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

 Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


 A usage of the BGP routing protocol is described which is capable of
 reducing the routing traffic passed on to routing peers and therefore
 the load on these peers without adversely affecting route convergence
 time for relatively stable routes.  This technique has been
 implemented in commercial products supporting BGP. The technique is
 also applicable to IDRP.
 The overall goals are:
 o  to provide a mechanism capable of reducing router processing load
    caused by instability
 o  in doing so prevent sustained routing oscillations
 o  to do so without sacrificing route convergence time for generally
    well behaved routes.
 This must be accomplished keeping other goals of BGP in mind:
 o  pack changes into a small number of updates
 o  preserve consistent routing

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 1] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 o  minimal addition space and computational overhead
 An excessive rate of update to the advertised reachability of a
 subset of Internet prefixes has been widespread in the Internet.
 This observation was made in the early 1990s by many people involved
 in Internet operations and remains the case.  These excessive updates
 are not necessarily periodic so route oscillation would be a
 misleading term.  The informal term used to describe this effect is
 "route flap".  The techniques described here are now widely deployed
 and are commonly referred to as "route flap damping".

1 Overview

 To maintain scalability of a routed internet, it is necessary to
 reduce the amount of change in routing state propagated by BGP in
 order to limit processing requirements.  The primary contributors of
 processing load resulting from BGP updates are the BGP decision
 process and adding and removing forwarding entries.
 Consider the following example.  A widely deployed BGP implementation
 may tend to fail due to high routing update volume.  For example, it
 may be unable to maintain it's BGP or IGP sessions if sufficiently
 loaded.  The failure of one router can further contribute to the load
 on other routers.  This additional load may cause failures in other
 instances of the same implementation or other implementations with a
 similar weakness.  In the worst case, a stable oscillation could
 result.  Such worse cases have already been observed in practice.
 A BGP implementation must be prepared for a large volume of routing
 traffic.  A BGP implementation cannot rely upon the sender to
 sufficiently shield it from route instabilities.  The guidelines here
 are designed to prevent sustained oscillations, but do not eliminate
 the need for robust and efficient implementations.  The mechanisms
 described here allow routing instability to be contained at an AS
 border router bordering the instability.
 Even where BGP implementations are highly robust, the performance of
 the routing process is limited.  Limiting the propagation of
 unnecessary change then becomes an issue of maintaining reasonable
 route change convergence time as a routing topology grows.

2 Methods of Limiting Route Advertisement

 Two methods of controlling the frequency of route advertisement are
 described here.  The first involves fixed timers.  The fixed timer
 technique has no space overhead per route but has the disadvantage of
 slowing route convergence for the normal case where a route does not
 have a history of instability.  The second method overcomes this

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 2] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 limitation at the expense of maintaining some additional space
 overhead.  The additional overhead includes a small amount of state
 per route and a very small processing overhead.
 It is possible and desirable to combine both techniques.  In
 practice, fixed timers have been set to very short time intervals and
 have proven useful to pack routes into a smaller number of updates
 when routes arrive in separate updates.  The BGP protocol refers to
 this as packing Network Layer Reachability Information (NLRI) [5].
 Seldom are fixed timers set to the tens of minutes to hours that
 would be necessary to actually damp route flap.  To do so would
 produce the undesirable effect of severely limiting routing

2.1 Existing Fixed Timer Recommendations

 BGP-3 does not make specific recommendations in this area [1].  The
 short section entitled "Frequency of Route Selection" simply
 recommends that something be done and makes broad statements
 regarding certain properties that are desirable or undesirable.
 BGP4 retains the "Frequency of Route Advertisement" section and adds
 a "Frequency of Route Origination" section.  BGP-4 describes a method
 of limiting route advertisement involving a fixed (configurable)
 MinRouteAdvertisementInterval timer and fixed
 MinASOriginationInterval timer [5].  The recommended timer values of
 MinRouteAdvertisementInterval is 30 seconds and
 MinASOriginationInterval is 15 seconds.

2.2 Desirable Properties of Damping Algorithms

 Before describing damping algorithms the objectives need to be
 clearly defined.  Some key properties are examined to clarify the
 design rationale.
 The overall objective is to reduce the route update load without
 limiting convergence time for well behaved routes.  To accomplish
 this, criteria must be defined for well behaved and poorly behaved
 routes.  An algorithm must be defined which allows poorly behaved
 routes to be identified.  Ideally, this measure would be a prediction
 of the future stability of a route.
 Any delay in propagation of well behaved routes should be minimal.
 Some delay is tolerable to support better packing of updates.  Delay
 of poorly behave routes should, if possible, be proportional to a
 measure of the expected future instability of the route.  Delay in
 propagating an unstable route should cause the unstable route to be

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 3] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 suppressed until there is some degree of confidence that the route
 has stabilized.
 If a large number of route changes are received in separate updates
 over some very short period of time and these updates have the
 potential to be combined into a single update then these should be
 packed as efficiently as possible before propagating further.  Some
 small delay in propagating well behaved routes is tolerable and is
 necessary to allow better packing of updates.
 Where routes are unstable, use and announcement of the routes should
 be suppressed rather than suppressing their removal.  Where one route
 to a destination is stable, and another route to the same destination
 is somewhat unstable, if possible, the unstable route should be
 suppressed more aggressively than if there were no alternate path.
 Routing consistency within an AS is very important.  Only very
 minimal delay of internal BGP (IBGP) should be done.  Routing
 consistency across AS boundaries is also very important.  It is
 highly undesirable to advertise a route that is different from the
 route that is being used, except for a very minimal time.  It is more
 desirable to suppress the acceptance of a route (and therefore the
 use of that route in the IGP) rather than suppress only the
 It is clearly not possible to accurately predict the future stability
 of a route.  The recent history of stability is generally regarded as
 a good basis for estimating the likelihood of future stability.  The
 criteria that is used to distinguish well behaved from poorly behaved
 routes is therefore based on the recent history of stability of the
 route.  There is no simple quantitative expression of recent
 stability so a figure of merit must be defined.  Some desirable
 characteristics of this figure of merit would be that the farther in
 the past that instability occurred, the less it's affect on the
 figure of merit and that the instability measure would be cumulative
 rather than reflecting only the most recent event.
 The algorithms should behave such that for routes which have a
 history of stability but make a few transitions, those transitions
 should be made quickly.  If transitions continue, advertisement of
 the route should be suppressed.  There should be some memory of prior
 instability.  The degree to which prior instability is considered
 should be gradually reduced as long as the route remains announced
 and stable.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 4] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

2.3 Design Choices

 After routes have been accepted their readvertisement will be briefly
 suppressed to improve packing of updates.  There may be a lengthy
 suppression of the acceptance of an external route.  How long a route
 will be suppressed is based on a figure of merit that is expected to
 be correlated to the probability of future instability of a route.
 Routes with high figure of merit values will be suppressed.  An
 exponential decay algorithm was chosen as the basis for reducing the
 figure of merit over time.  These choices should be viewed as
 suggestions for implementation.
 An exponential decay function has the property that previous
 instability can be remembered for a fairly long time.  The rate at
 which the instability figure of merit decays slows as time goes on.
 Exponential decay has the following property.
       f(f(figure-of-merit, t1), t2) = f(figure-of-merit, t1+t2)
 This property allows the decay for a long period to be computed in a
 single operation regardless of the current value (figure-of-merit).
 As a performance optimization, the decay can be applied in fixed time
 increments.  Given a desired decay half life, the decay for a single
 time increment can be computed ahead of time.  The decay for multiple
 time increments is expressed below.
      f(figure-of-merit, n*t0) = f(figure-of-merit, t0)**n = K**n
 The values of K ** n can be precomputed for a reasonable number of
 "n" and stored in an array.  The value of "K" is always less than
 one.  The array size can be bounded since the value quickly
 approaches zero.  This makes the decay easy to compute using an array
 bound check, an array lookup and a single multiply regardless as to
 how much time has elapsed.

3 Limiting Route Advertisements using Fixed Timers

 This method of limiting route advertisements involves the use of
 fixed timers applied to the process of sending routes.  It's primary
 purpose is to improve the packing of routes in BGP update messages.
 The delay in advertising a stable route should be bounded and
 minimal.  The delay in advertising an unreachable need not be zero,
 but should also be bounded and should probably have a separate bound
 set less than or equal to the bound for a reachable advertisement.
 The BGP protocol defines the use of a Routing Information Base (RIB).
 Routes that need to be readvertised can be marked in the RIB or an
 external set of structures maintained, which references the RIB.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 5] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 Periodically, a subset of the marked routes can be flushed.  This is
 fairly straightforward and accomplishes the objectives.  Computation
 for too simple an implementation may be order N squared.  To avoid N
 squared performance, some form of data structure is needed to group
 routes with common attributes.
 An implementation should pack updates efficiently, provide a minimum
 readvertisement delay, provide a bounds on the maximum
 readvertisement delay that would be experienced solely as a result of
 the algorithm used to provide a minimum delay, and must be
 computationally efficient in the presence of a very large number of
 candidates for readvertisement.

4 Stability Sensitive Suppression of Route Advertisement

 This method of limiting route advertisements uses a measure of route
 stability applied on a per route basis.  This technique is applied
 when receiving updates from external peers only (EBGP). Applying this
 technique to IBGP learned routes or to advertisement to IBGP or EBGP
 peers after making a route selection can result in routing loops.
 A figure of merit based on a measure of instability is maintained on
 a per route basis.  This figure of merit is used in the decision to
 suppress the use of the route.  Routes with high figure of merit are
 suppressed.  Each time a route is withdrawn, the figure of merit is
 incremented.  While the route is not changing the figure of merit
 value is decayed exponentially with separate decay rates depending on
 whether the route is stable and reachable or has been stable and
 unreachable.  The decay rate may be slower when the route is
 unreachable, or the stability figure of merit could remain fixed (not
 decay at all) while the route remains unreachable.  Whether to decay
 unreachable routes at the same rate, a slower rate, or not at all is
 an implementation choice.  Decaying at a slower rate is recommended.
 A very efficient implementation is suggested in the following
 sections.  The implementation only requires computation for the
 routes contained in an update, when an update is received or
 withdrawn (as opposed to the simplistic approach of periodically
 decaying each route).  The suggested implementation involves only a
 small number of simple operations, and can be implemented using
 scaled integers.
 The behavior of unstable routes is fairly predictable.  Severely
 flapping routes will often be advertised and withdrawn at regular
 time intervals corresponding to the timers of a particular protocol
 (the IGP or exterior protocol in use where the problem exists).
 Marginal circuits or mild congestion can result in a long term
 pattern of occasional brief route withdrawal or occasional brief

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 6] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998


4.1 Single vs. Multiple Configuration Parameter Sets

 The behavior of the algorithm is modified by a number of configurable
 parameters.  It is possible to configure separate sets of parameters
 designed to handle short term severe route flap and chronic milder
 route flap (a pattern of occasional drops over a long time period).
 The former would require a fast decay and low threshold (allowing a
 small number of consecutive flaps to cause a route to be suppressed,
 but allowing it to be reused after a relatively short period of
 stability).  The latter would require a very slow decay and a higher
 threshold and might be appropriate for routes for which there was an
 alternate path of similar bandwidth.
 It may also be desirable to configure different thresholds for routes
 with roughly equivalent alternate paths than for routes where the
 alternate paths have a lower bandwidth or tend to be congested.  This
 can be solved by associating a different set of parameters with
 different ranges of preference values.  Parameter selection could be
 based on BGP LOCAL_PREF.
 Parameter selection could also be based on whether an alternate route
 was known.  A route would be considered if, for any applicable
 parameter set, an alternate route with the specified preference value
 existed and the figure of merit associated with the parameter set did
 not indicate a need to suppress the route.  A less aggressive
 suppression would be applied to the case where no alternate route at
 all existed.  In the simplest case, a more aggressive suppression
 would be applied if any alternate route existed.  Only the highest
 preference (most preferred) value needs to be specified, since the
 ranges may overlap.
 It might also be desirable to configure a different set of thresholds
 for routes which rely on switched services and may disconnect at
 times to reduce connect charges.  Such routes might be expected to
 change state somewhat more often, but should be suppressed if
 continuous state changes indicate instability.
 While not essential, it might be desirable to be able to configure
 multiple sets of configuration parameters per route.  It may also be
 desirable to be able to configure sets of parameters that only
 correspond to a set of routes (identified by AS path, peer router,
 specific destinations or other means).  Experience may dictate how
 much flexibility is needed and how to best to set the parameters.
 Whether to allow different damping parameter sets for different
 routes, and whether to allow multiple figures of merit per route is
 an implementation choice.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 7] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 Parameter selection can also be based on prefix length.  The
 rationale is that longer prefixes tend to reach less end systems and
 are less important and these less important prefixes can be damped
 more aggressively.  This technique is in fairly widespread use.
 Small sites or those with dense address allocation who are multihomed
 are often reachable by long prefixes which are not easily aggregated.
 These sites tend to dispute the choice of prefix length for parameter
 selection.  Advocates of the technique point out that it encourages
 better aggregation.

4.2 Configuration Parameters

 At configuration time, a number of parameters may be specified by the
 user.  The configuration parameters are expressed in units meaningful
 to the user.  These differ from the parameters used at run time which
 are in unit convenient for computation.  The run time parameters are
 derived from the configuration parameters.  Suggested configuration
 parameters are listed below.
   cutoff threshold (cut)
      This value is expressed as a number of route withdrawals.  It is
      the value above which a route advertisement will be suppressed.
   reuse threshold (reuse)
      This value is expressed as a number of route withdrawals.  It is
      the value below which a suppressed route will now be used again.
   maximum hold down time (T-hold)
      This value is the maximum time a route can be suppressed no
      matter how unstable it has been prior to this period of
   decay half life while reachable (decay-ok)
      This value is the time duration in minutes or seconds during
      which the accumulated stability figure of merit will be reduced
      by half if the route if considered reachable (whether suppressed
      or not).
   decay half life while unreachable (decay-ng)
      This value is the time duration in minutes or seconds during
      which the accumulated stability figure of merit will be reduced
      by half if the route if considered unreachable.  If not
      specified or set to zero, no decay will occur while a route

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 8] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

      remains unreachable.
   decay memory limit (Tmax-ok or Tmax-ng)
      This is the maximum time that any memory of previous instability
      will be retained given that the route's state remains unchanged,
      whether reachable or unreachable.  This parameter is generally
      used to determine array sizes.
 There may be multiple sets of the parameters above as described in
 Section 4.1.  The configuration parameters listed below would be
 applied system wide.  These include the time granularity of all
 computations, and the parameters used to control reevaluation of
 routes that have previously been suppressed.
   time granularity (delta-t)
      This is the time granularity in seconds used to perform all
      decay computations.
   reuse list time granularity (delta-reuse)
      This is the time interval between evaluations of the reuse
      lists.  Each reuse lists corresponds to an additional time
   reuse list memory reuse-list-max
      This is the time value corresponding to the last reuse list.
      This may be the maximum value of T-hold for all parameter sets
      of may be configured.
   number of reuse lists (reuse-list-size)
      This is the number of reuse lists.  It may be determined from
      reuse-list-max or set explicitly.
 A recommended optimization is described in Section 4.8.6 that
 involves an array referred to as the "reuse index array".  A reuse
 index array is needed for each decay rate in use.  The reuse index
 array is used to estimate which reuse list to place a route when it
 is suppressed.  Proper placement avoids the need to periodically
 evaluate decay to determine if a route can be reused or when storage
 can be recovered.  Using the reuse index array avoids the need to
 compute a logarithm to determine placement.  One additional system
 wide parameter can be introduced.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 9] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

   reuse index array size (reuse-index-array-size)
      This is the size of reuse index arrays.  This size determines
      the accuracy with which suppressed routes can be placed within
      the set of reuse lists when suppressed for a long time.

4.3 Guidelines for Setting Parameters

 The decay half life should be set to a time considerably longer than
 the period of the route flap it is intended to address.  For example,
 if the decay is set to ten minutes and a route is withdrawn and
 readvertised exactly every ten minutes, the route would continue to
 flap if the cutoff was set to a value of 2 or above.
 The stability figure of merit itself is an accumulated time decayed
 total.  This must be kept in mind in setting the decay time, cutoff
 values and reuse values.  The figure of merit is increased each time
 a route transitions from reachable to unreachable.  The figure of
 merit is decayed at a rate proportional to its current value.
 Increasing the rate of route flap therefore increments the figure of
 merit more often and reaches a given threshhold in a shorter amount
 of time.  When the response to a constant rate route flap is plotted
 this looks like a sawtooth with an abrupt rising edge and a decaying
 falling edge.  Since the absolute decay amount is proportional to the
 figure of merit, at a continuous constant flap rate the baseline of
 the sawtooth will tend to stop rising and converge if not clipped by
 a ceiling value.
 If clipped by a ceiling value, the sawtooth baseline will simply
 reach the ceiling faster at a higher rate of route flap.  For
 example, if flapping at four times the decay rate the following
 progression occurs.  When the route becomes unreachable the first
 time the value becomes 1.  When the next flap occurs, one is added to
 the previous value, which has been decreased by the fourth root of 2
 (the amount of decay that would occur in 1/4 of the half life time if
 decay is exponential).  The sequence is 1, 1.84, 2.55, 3.14, 3.64,
 4.06, 4.42, 4.71, 4.96, 5.17, ..., converging at about 6.285.  If a
 route flaps at four times the decay rate, it will reach 3 in 4
 cycles, 4 in 6 cycles, 5 in 10 cycles, and will converge at about
 6.3.  At twice the decay time, it will reach 3 in 7 cycles, and
 converge at a value of less than 3.5.
 Figure 1 shows the stability figure of merit for route flap at a
 constant rate.  The time axis is labeled in multiples of the decay
 half life.  The plots represent route flap with a period of 1/2, 1/3,
 1/4, and 1/8 times the decay half life.  A ceiling of 4.5 was set,
 which can be seen to affect three of the plots, effectively limiting
 the time it takes to readvertise the route regardless of the prior

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 10] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 history.  With cutoff and reuse thresholds of 1.5 and 0.75,  routes
 would be suppressed after being declared unreachable 2-3 times and be
 used again after approximately 2 decay half life periods of
 This function can be expressed formally.  Reachability of a route can
 be represented by a variable "R" with possible values of 0 and 1
 representing unreachable and reachable.  At a discrete time R can
 only have one value.  The figure of merit is increased by 1 at each
 transition from R=1 to R=0 and clipped to a ceiling value.  The decay
 in figure of merit can then be expressed over a set of discrete times
 as follows.
    figure-of-merit(t) = K * figure-of-merit(t - delta-t) 
    K = K1 for R=0 K=K2 for R=1
 The four plots are presented vertically.  Due to space limitations,
 only a limited set of points along the time axis are shown.  The
 value of the figure of merit is given.  Along side each value is a
 very low resolution strip chart made up of ASCII dots.  This is just
 intended to give a rough feel for the rise and fall of the values.
 The strip charts are not displayed on an overlapping set of axes
 because the sawtooth waveforms cross each other quite frequently.  At
 the very low resolution of these plots, the rise and fall of the
 baseline is evident, but the sawtooth nature is only observed in the
 printed value.
 From the maximum hold time value (T-hold), a ratio of the reuse value
 to a ceiling can be determined.  An integer value for the ceiling can
 then be chosen such that overflow will not be a problem and all other
 values can be scaled accordingly.  If both cutoffs are specified or
 if multiple parameter sets are used the highest ceiling will be used.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 11] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 time      figure-of-merit as a function of time (in minutes)
0.00    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
0.08    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
0.16    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.973  .
0.24    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.920  .
0.32    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.946  .        1.817    .
0.40    0.000 .         0.953  .        0.895  .        2.698     .
0.48    0.000 .         0.901  .        0.847  .        2.552     .
0.56    0.953  .        0.853  .        1.754    .      3.367      .
0.64    0.901  .        0.807  .        1.659   .       4.172        .
0.72    0.853  .        1.722    .      1.570   .       3.947        .
0.80    0.807  .        1.629   .       2.444     .     4.317        .
0.88    0.763  .        1.542   .       2.312     .     4.469        .
0.96    0.722  .        1.458   .       2.188    .      4.228        .
1.04    1.649   .       2.346     .     3.036      .    4.347        .
1.12    1.560   .       2.219    .      2.872      .    4.112        .
1.20    1.476   .       2.099    .      2.717     .     4.257        .
1.28    1.396   .       1.986    .      3.543       .   4.377        .
1.36    1.321   .       2.858      .    3.352      .    4.141        .
1.44    1.250   .       2.704     .     3.171      .    4.287        .
1.52    2.162    .      2.558     .     3.979        .  4.407        .
1.60    2.045    .      2.420     .     3.765       .   4.170        .
1.68    1.935    .      3.276      .    3.562       .   4.317        .
1.76    1.830    .      3.099      .    4.356        .  4.438        .
1.84    1.732    .      2.932      .    4.121        .  4.199        .
1.92    1.638   .       2.774     .     3.899       .   3.972        .
2.00    1.550   .       2.624     .     3.688       .   3.758       .
2.08    1.466   .       2.483     .     3.489       .   3.555       .
2.16    1.387   .       2.349     .     3.301      .    3.363      .
2.24    1.312   .       2.222    .      3.123      .    3.182      .
2.32    1.242   .       2.102    .      2.955      .    3.010      .
2.40    1.175   .       1.989    .      2.795     .     2.848      .
2.48    1.111  .        1.882    .      2.644     .     2.694     .
2.56    1.051  .        1.780    .      2.502     .     2.549     .
2.64    0.995  .        1.684   .       2.367     .     2.411     .
2.72    0.941  .        1.593   .       2.239    .      2.281     .
2.80    0.890  .        1.507   .       2.118    .      2.158    .
2.88    0.842  .        1.426   .       2.004    .      2.042    .
2.96    0.797  .        1.349   .       1.896    .      1.932    .
3.04    0.754  .        1.276   .       1.794    .      1.828    .
3.12    0.713  .        1.207   .       1.697    .      1.729    .
3.20    0.675  .        1.142   .       1.605   .       1.636   .
3.28    0.638  .        1.081  .        1.519   .       1.547   .
3.36    0.604  .        1.022  .        1.437   .       1.464   .
3.44    0.571  .        0.967  .        1.359   .       1.385   .
 Figure 1: Instability figure of merit for flap at a constant rate

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 12] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

time      figure-of-merit as a function of time (in minutes)
0.00    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
0.20    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
0.40    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
0.60    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
0.80    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
1.00    0.999  .        0.999  .        0.999  .
1.20    0.971  .        0.971  .        0.929  .
1.40    0.945  .        0.945  .        0.809  .
1.60    0.919  .        0.865  .        0.704  .
1.80    0.894  .        0.753  .        0.613  .
2.00    1.812    .      1.657   .       1.535   .
2.20    1.762    .      1.612   .       1.428   .
2.40    1.714    .      1.568   .       1.244   .
2.60    1.667   .       1.443   .       1.083  .
2.80    1.622   .       1.256   .       0.942  .
3.00    1.468   .       1.094  .        0.820  .
3.20    2.400     .     2.036    .      1.694    .
3.40    2.335     .     1.981    .      1.475   .
3.60    2.271     .     1.823    .      1.284   .
3.80    2.209    .      1.587   .       1.118  .
4.00    1.999    .      1.381   .       0.973  .
4.20    2.625     .     2.084    .      1.727    .
4.40    2.285     .     1.815    .      1.503   .
4.60    1.990    .      1.580   .       1.309   .
4.80    1.732    .      1.375   .       1.139   .
5.00    1.508   .       1.197   .       0.992  .
5.20    1.313   .       1.042  .        0.864  .
5.40    1.143   .       0.907  .        0.752  .
5.60    0.995  .        0.790  .        0.654  .
5.80    0.866  .        0.688  .        0.570  .
6.00    0.754  .        0.599  .        0.496 .
6.20    0.656  .        0.521 .         0.432 .
6.40    0.571  .        0.454 .         0.376 .
6.60    0.497 .         0.395 .         0.327 .
6.80    0.433 .         0.344 .         0.285 .
7.00    0.377 .         0.299 .         0.248 .
7.20    0.328 .         0.261 .         0.216 .
7.40    0.286 .         0.227 .         0.188 .
7.60    0.249 .         0.197 .         0.164 .
7.80    0.216 .         0.172 .         0.142 .
8.00    0.188 .         0.150 .         0.124 .
        Figure 2: Separate decay constants when unreachable

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 13] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 Figure 2 shows the effect of configuring separate decay rates to be
 used when the route is reachable or unreachable.  The decay rate is 5
 times slower when the route is unreachable.  In the three case shown,
 the period of the route flap is equal to the decay half life but the
 route is reachable 1/8 of the time in one, reachable 1/2 the time in
 one, and reachable 7/8 of the time in the other.  In the last case
 the route is not suppressed until after the third unreachable (when
 it is above the top threshold after becoming reachable again).
 The main point of Figure 2 is to show the effect of changing the duty
 cycle of the square wave in the variable "R" for a fixed frequency of
 the square wave.  If the decay constants are chosen such that decay
 is slower when R=0 (the route is unreachable), then the figure of
 merit rises more slowly (more accurately, the baseline of the
 sawtooth waveform rises more slowly) if the route is reachable a
 larger percentage of the time.  The effect when the route becomes
 persistently reachable again can be fairly negligible if the sawtooth
 is clipped by a ceiling value, but is more significant if a slow
 route flap rate or short interval of route flapping is such that the
 sawtooth does not reach the ceiling value.  In Figure 2 the interval
 in which the routes are unstable is short enough that the ceiling
 value is not reached, therefore, the routes that are reachable for a
 greater percentage of the route flap cycle are reused (placed in the
 RIB and advertised to peers) sooner than others after the route
 becomes stable again ("R" becomes 1, indicating the announced state
 goes to reachable and remains there).
 In both Figure 1 and Figure 2, routes would be suppressed.  Routes
 flapping at the decay half life or less would be withdrawn two or
 three times and then remain withdrawn until they had remained stably
 announced and stable for on the order of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times the
 decay half life (given the ceiling in the example).
 The purpose of damping BGP route flap is to reduce the processor
 burden at the immediate router and the processor burden to downstream
 routers (BGP peer routers and peers of peers that will see the route
 announcements advertised by the immediate router).  Computing a
 figure of merit at each discrete time interval using  figure-of-
 merit(t) = K * figure-of-merit(t - delta-t) would be very inefficient
 and defeat the purpose.  This problem is addressed by defering
 computation as long as possible and doing a single simple computation
 to compensate for the decay during the time that has elapsed since
 the figure of merit was last updated.  The use of decay arrays
 provides the single simple calculation.  The use of reuse lists
 (described later) provide a means to defer calculations.  A route
 becomes usable if there was not further change for a period of time
 and the route is unreachable.  The data structure storage is
 recovered if the route's state has not changed for a period of time

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 14] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 and it has been unreachable.  The reuse arrays provide a means to
 estimate how long a computation can be deferred if there is no
 further change.
 A larger time granularity will keep table storage down.  The time
 granularity should be less than a minimal reasonable time between
 expected worse case route flaps.  It might be reasonable to fix this
 parameter at compile time or set a default and strongly recommend
 that the user leave it alone.  With an exponential decay, array size
 can be greatly reduced by setting a period of complete stability
 after which the decayed total will be considered zero rather than
 retaining a tiny quantity.  Alternately, very long decays can be
 implemented by multiplying more than once if array bounds are
 The reuse lists hold suppressed routes grouped according to how long
 it will be before the routes are eligible for reuse.  Periodically
 each list will be advanced by one position and one list removed as
 described in Section 4.8.7.  All of the suppressed routes in the
 removed list will be reevaluated and either used or placed in another
 list according to how much additional time must elapse before the
 route can be reused.  The last list will always contain all the
 routes which will not be advertised for more time than is appropriate
 for the remaining list heads.  When the last list advances to the
 front, some of the routes will not be ready to be used and will have
 to be requeued.  The time interval for reconsidering suppressed
 routes and number of list heads should be configurable.  Reasonable
 defaults might be 30 seconds and 64 list heads.  A route suppressed
 for a long time would need to be reevaluated every 32 minutes.

4.4 Run Time Data Structures

 A fixed small amount of per system storage will be required.  Where
 sets of multiple configuration parameters are used, storage will be
 required per set of parameters.  A small amount of per route storage
 is required.  A set of list heads is needed.  These list heads are
 used to arrange suppressed routes according to the time remaining
 until they can be reused.
 A separate reuse list can be used to hold unreachable routes for the
 purpose of later recovering storage if they remain unreachable too
 long.  This might be more accurately described as a recycling list.
 The advantage this would provide is making free data structures
 available as soon as possible.  Alternately, the data structures can
 simply be placed on a queue and the storage recovered when the route
 hits the front of the queue and if storage is needed.  The latter is
 less optimal but simple.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 15] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 If multiple sets of configuration parameters are allowed per route,
 there is a need for some means of associating more than one figure of
 merit and set of parameters with each route.  Building a linked list
 of these objects seems like one of a number of reasonable
 implementations.  Similarly, a means of associating a route to a
 reuse list is required.  A small overhead will be required for the
 pointers needed to implement whatever data structure is chosen for
 the reuse lists.  The suggested implementation uses a double linked
 lists and so requires two pointers per figure of merit.
 Each set of configuration parameters can reference decay arrays and
 reuse arrays.  These arrays should be shared among multiple sets of
 parameters since their storage requirement is not negligible.  There
 will be only one set of reuse list heads for the entire router.

4.4.1 Data Structures for Configuration Parameter Sets

 Based on the configuration parameters described in the previous
 section, the following values can be computed as scaled integers
 directly from the corresponding configuration parameters.
 o  decay array scale factor (decay-array-scale-factor)
 o  cutoff value (cut)
 o  reuse value (reuse)
 o  figure of merit ceiling (ceiling)
 Each configuration parameter set will reference one or two decay
 arrays and one or two reuse arrays.  Only one array will be needed if
 the decay rate is the same while a route is unreachable as while it
 is reachable, or if the stability figure of merit does not decay
 while a route is unreachable.

4.4.2 Data Structures per Decay Array and Reuse Index Array

 The following are also computed from the configuration parameters
 though not as directly.  The computation is described in Section 4.5.
 o  decay rate per tick (decay-delta-t)
 o  decay array size (decay-array-size)
 o  decay array (decay[])
 o  reuse index array size (reuse-index-array-size)

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 16] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 o  reuse index array (reuse-index-array[])
 For each decay rate specified, an array will be used to store the
 value of a computed parameter raised to the power of the index of
 each array element.  This is to speed computations.  The decay rate
 per tick is an intermediate value expressed as a real number and used
 to compute the values stored in the decay arrays.  The array size is
 computed from the decay memory limit configuration parameter
 expressed as an array size or as a maximum hold time.
 The decay array size must be of sufficient size to accommodate the
 specified decay memory given the time granularity, or sufficient to
 hold the number of array elements until integer rounding produces a
 zero result if that value is smaller, or a implementation imposed
 reasonable size to prevent configurations which use excessive memory.
 Implementations may chose to make the array size shorter and multiply
 more than once when decaying a long time interval to reduce storage.
 The reuse index arrays serve a similar purpose to the decay arrays.
 In BGP, a route is said to be "used" if it is considered the best
 route.  In this context, if the route is "used" it is placed in the
 RIB and is eligible for advertisement to BGP peers.  If a route is
 withdrawn (a BGP announcement is made by a peer indicating that it is
 no longer reachable), then it is no longer eligible for "use".  When
 a route becomes reachable it may not be "used" immediately if the
 figure of merit indicates that a recent instability has occurred.
 After the route remains stable and the figure of merit decays below
 the "reuse" threshhold, the route is said to be eligible to be
 "reused" (treated as truly reachable, placed in the RIB and
 advertised to peers).  The amount of time until a route can be reused
 can be determined using a array lookup.  The array can be built given
 the decay rate.  The array is indexed using a scaled integer
 proportional to the ratio between a current stability figure of merit
 value and the value needed for the route to be reused.

4.4.3 Per Route State

 Information must be maintained per some tuple representing a route.
 At the very minimum, the NLRI (BGP prefix and length) must be
 contained in the tuple.  Different BGP attributes may be included or
 excluded depending on the specific situation.  The AS path should
 also be contained in the tuple by default.  The tuple may also
 optionally contain other BGP attributes such as
 The tuple representing a route for the purpose of route flap damping

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 17] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

    tuple entry            default      options
      prefix               required
      length               required
    AS path                included     option to exclude
    last AS set in path    excluded     option to include
    next hop               excluded     option to include
    MED                    excluded     option to include
                                        in comparisons only
 The AS path is generally included in order to identify downstream
 instability which is not being damped or not being sufficiently
 damped and is alternating between a stable and an unstable path.
 Under rare circumstances it may be desirable to exclude AS path for
 all or a subset of prefixes.  If an AS path ends in an AS set, in
 practice the path is always for an aggregate.  Changes to the
 trailing AS set should be ignored.  Ideally the AS path comparison
 should insure that at least one AS has remained constant in the old
 and new AS set, but completely ignoring the contents of a trailing AS
 set is also acceptable.
 Including next hop and MED changes can help suppress the use of an AS
 which is internally unstable or avoid a next hop which is closer to
 an unstable IGP path in the adjacent AS. If a large number of MED
 values are used, the increase in the amount of state may become a
 problem.  For this reason MED is disabled by default and enabled only
 as part of the tuple comparison, using a single state entry
 regardless of MED value.  Including MED will suppress the use of the
 adjacent AS even though the change need not be propagated further.
 Using MED is only a safe practice if a path is known to exist through
 another AS or where there are enough peering sites with the adjacent
 AS such that routes heard at only a subset of the peering sites will
 be suppressed.

4.4.4 Data Structures per Route

 The following information must be maintained per route.  A route here
 is considered to be a tuple usually containing NLRI, next hop, and AS
 path as defined in Section 4.4.3.
   stability figure of merit (figure-of-merit)
      Each route must have a stability figure of merit per applicable
      parameter set.
   last time updated (time-update)

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 18] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

      The exact last time updated must be maintained to allow
      exponential decay of the accumulated figure of merit to be
      deferred until the route might reasonable be considered eligible
      for a change in status (having gone from unreachable to
      reachable or advancing within the reuse lists).
   config block pointer
      Any implementation that supports multiple parameter sets must
      provide a means of quickly identifying which set of parameters
      corresponds to the route currently being considered.  For
      implementations supporting only parameter sets where all routes
      must be treated the same, this pointer is not required.
   reuse list traversal pointers
      If doubly linked lists are used to implement reuse lists, then
      two pointers will be needed, previous and next.  Generally there
      is a double linked list which is unused when a route is
      suppressed from use that can be used for reuse list traversal
      eliminating the need for additional pointer storage.

4.5 Processing Configuration Parameters

      From the configuration parameters, it is possible to precompute
      a number of values that will be used repeatedly and retain these
      to speed later computations that will be required frequently.
      Scaling is usually dependent on the highest value that figure-
      of-merit can attain, referred to here as the ceiling.  The real
      number value of the ceiling will typically be determined by the
      following equation.  The ceiling can also be configured to a
      specific value, which in turn dictates T-hold.
          ceiling = reuse * (exp(T-hold/decay-half-life) * log(2))
      In the above equation, reuse is the reuse threshhold described
      in Section 4.2.
      The methods of scaled integer arithmetic are not described in
      detail here.  The methods of determining the real values are
      given.  Translation into scaled integer values and the details
      of scaled integer arithmetic are left up to the individual
   The ceiling value can be set to be the largest integer that can fit
   in half the bits available for an unsigned integer.  This will
   allow the scaled integers to be multiplied by the scaled decay

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 19] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

   value and then shifted down.  Implementations may prefer to use
   real numbers or may use any integer scaling deemed appropriate for
   their architecture.
   penalty value and thresholds (as proportional scaled integers)
      The figure of merit penalty for one route withdrawal and the
      cutoff values must be scaled according to the above scaling
   decay rate per tick (decay[1])
      The decay value per increment of time as defined by the time
      granularity must be determined (at least initially as a floating
      point number).  The per tick decay is a number slightly less
      than one.  It is the Nth root of the one half where N is the
      half life divided by the time granularity.
        decay[1] = exp ((1 / (decay-half-life/delta-t)) * log (1/2))
   decay array size (decay-array-size)
      The decay array size is the decay memory divided by the time
      granularity.  If integer truncation brings the value of an array
      element to zero, the array can be made smaller.  An
      implementation should also impose a maximum reasonable array
      size or allow more than one multiplication.
                     decay-array-size = (Tmax/delta-t)
   decay array (decay[])
      Each i-th element of the decay array is the per tick delay
      raised to the i-th power.  This might be best done by successive
      floating point multiplies followed by scaling and integer
      rounding or truncation.  The array itself need only be computed
      at startup.
                          decay[i] = decay[1] ** i

4.6 Building the Reuse Index Arrays

 The reuse lists may be accessed quite frequently if a lot of routes
 are flapping sufficiently to be suppressed.  A method of speeding the
 determination of which reuse list to use for a given route is
 suggested.  This method is introduced in Section 4.2, its
 configuration described in Section 4.4.2 and the algorithms described
 in Section 4.8.6 and Section 4.8.7.  This section describes building

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 20] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 the reuse list index arrays.
 A ratio of the figure of merit of the route under consideration to
 the cutoff value is used as the basis for an array lookup.  The ratio
 is scaled and truncated to an integer and used to index the array.
 The array entry is an integer used to determine which reuse list to
   reuse array maximum ratio (max-ratio)
      This is the maximum ratio between the current value of the
      stability figure of merit and the target reuse value that can be
      indexed by the reuse array.  It may be limited by the ceiling
      imposed by the maximum hold time or by the amount of time that
      the reuse lists cover.
        max-ratio = min(ceiling/reuse, exp((1 / (half-life/reuse-
     array-time)) * log(2)))
   reuse array scale factor ( scale-factor )
      Since the reuse array is an estimator, the reuse array scale
      factor has to be computed such that the full size of the reuse
      array is used.
          scale-factor = reuse-index-array-size / (max-ratio - 1)
   reuse index array (reuse-index-array[])
      Each reuse index array entry should contain an index into the
      reuse list array pointing to one of the list heads.  This index
      should corresponding to the reuse list that will be evaluated
      just after a route would be eligible for reuse given the ratio
      of current value of the stability figure of merit to target
      reuse value corresponding the the reuse array entry.
        reuse-index-array[j] = integer((decay-half-life / reuse-
     time-granularity) * log(1/(reuse * (1 + (j / scale-factor)))) /
 To determine which reuse queue to place a route which is being
 suppressed, the following procedure is used.  Divide the current
 figure of merit by the cutoff.  Subtract one.  Multiply by the scale
 factor.  This is the index into the reuse index array (reuse-index-
 array[]).  The value fetched from the reuse index array (reuse-
 index-array[]) is an index into the array of reuse lists (reuse-
 array[]).  If this index is off the end of the array use the last
 queue otherwise look in the array and pick the number of the queue

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 21] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 from the array at that index.  This is quite fast and well worth the
 setup and storage required.

4.7 A Sample Configuration

 A simple example is presented here in which the space overhead is
 estimated for a set of configuration parameters.  The design here
 1.  there is a single parameter set used for all routes,
 2.  decay time for unreachable routes is slower than for reachable
 3.  the arrays must be full size, rather than allow more than one
     multiply per decay operation to reduce the array size.
 This example is used in later sections.  The use of multiple
 parameter sets complicates the examples somewhat.  Where multiple
 parameter sets are allowed for a single route, the decay portion of
 the algorithm is repeated for each parameter set.  If different
 routes are allowed to have different parameter sets, the routes must
 have pointers to the parameter sets to keep the time to locate to a
 minimum, but the algorithms are otherwise unchanged.
 A sample set of configuration parameters and a sample set of
 implementation parameters are provided in in the two following lists.
   1.  Configuration Parameters
      o cut = 1.25
      o reuse = 0.5
      o T-hold = 15 mins
      o decay-ok = 5 min
      o decay-ng = 15 min
      o Tmax-ok, Tmax-ng = 15, 30 mins
   2.  Implementation Parameters
      o delta-t = 1 sec
      o delta-reuse = 15 sec

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 22] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

      o reuse-list-size = 256
      o reuse-index-array-size = 1,024
 Using these configuration and implementation parameters and the
 equations in Section 4.5, the space overhead can be computed.  There
 is a fixed space overhead that is independent of the number of
 routes.  There is a space requirement associated with a stable route.
 There is a larger space requirement associated with an unstable
 route.  The space requirements for the parameters above are provide
 in the lists below.
   1.  fixed overhead (using parameters from previous example)
      o 900 * integer - decay array
      o 1,800 * integer - decay array
      o 120 * pointer - reuse list-heads
      o 2,048 * integer - reuse index arrays
   2.  overhead per stable route
      o pointer - containing null entry
   3.  overhead per unstable route
      o pointer - to a damping structure containing the following
      o integer - figure of merit  + bit for state
      o integer - last time updated
      o 2 * pointer - reuse list pointers (prev, next)
 The decay arrays are sized acording to delta-t and Tmax-ok or Tmax-
 ng.  The number of reuse list-heads is based on delta-reuse and the
 greater of Tmax-ok or Tmax-ng.  There are two reuse index arrays
 whose size is a configured parameter.
 Figure 3 shows the behavior of the algorithm with the parameters
 given above.  Four cases are given in this example.  In all four,
 there is a twelve minute period of route oscillations.  Two periods
 of oscillation are used, 2 minutes and 4 minutes.  Two duty cycles
 are used, one in which the route is reachable during 20% of the cycle
 and the other where the route is reachable during 80% of the cycle.
 In all four cases, the route becomes suppressed after it becomes

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 23] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 unreachable the second time.  Once suppressed, it remains suppressed
 until some period after becoming stable.  The routes which oscillate
 over a 4 minute period are no longer suppressed within 9-11 minutes
 after becoming stable.  The routes with a 2 minute period of
 oscillation are suppressed for nearly the maximum 15 minute period
 after becoming stable.

4.8 Processing Routing Protocol Activity

 The prior sections concentrate on configuration parameters and their
 relationship to the parameters and arrays used at run time and
 provide the algorithms for initializing run time storage.  This
 section provides the steps taken in processing routing events and
 timer events when running.
 The routing events are:
   1.  A BGP peer or new route comes up for the first time (or after
       an extended down time) (Section 4.8.1)
   2.  A route becomes unreachable (Section 4.8.2)
   3.  A route becomes reachable again (Section 4.8.3)
   4.  A route changes (Section 4.8.4)
   5.  A peer goes down (Section 4.8.5)

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 24] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

   time      figure-of-merit as a function of time (in minutes)
   0.00    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
   0.62    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
   1.25    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
   1.88    0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .         0.000 .
   2.50    0.977  .        0.968  .        0.000 .         0.000 .
   3.12    0.949  .        0.888  .        0.000 .         0.000 .
   3.75    0.910  .        0.814  .        0.000 .         0.000 .
   4.37    1.846    .      1.756    .      0.983  .        0.983  .
   5.00    1.794    .      1.614    .      0.955  .        0.935  .
   5.63    1.735    .      1.480   .       0.928  .        0.858  .
   6.25    2.619      .    2.379     .     0.901  .        0.786  .
   6.88    2.544      .    2.207     .     0.876  .        0.721  .
   7.50    2.472     .     2.024     .     0.825  .        0.661  .
   8.13    3.308       .   2.875      .    1.761    .      1.608    .
   8.75    3.213       .   2.698      .    1.711    .      1.562    .
   9.38    3.122       .   2.474     .     1.662    .      1.436   .
  10.00    3.922        .  3.273       .   1.615    .      1.317   .
  10.63    3.810        .  3.107       .   1.569    .      1.207   .
  11.25    3.702        .  2.849      .    1.513    .      1.107   .
  11.88    3.498       .   2.613      .    1.388   .       1.015   .
  12.50    3.904        .  3.451       .   2.312     .     1.953    .
  13.13    3.580        .  3.164       .   2.120     .     1.791    .
  13.75    3.283       .   2.902      .    1.944    .      1.643    .
  14.38    3.010       .   2.661      .    1.783    .      1.506    .
  15.00    2.761      .    2.440     .     1.635    .      1.381   .
  15.63    2.532      .    2.238     .     1.499   .       1.267   .
  16.25    2.321     .     2.052     .     1.375   .       1.161   .
  16.88    2.129     .     1.882    .      1.261   .       1.065   .
  17.50    1.952    .      1.725    .      1.156   .       0.977  .
  18.12    1.790    .      1.582    .      1.060   .       0.896  .
  18.75    1.641    .      1.451   .       0.972  .        0.821  .
  19.38    1.505    .      1.331   .       0.891  .        0.753  .
  20.00    1.380   .       1.220   .       0.817  .        0.691  .
  20.62    1.266   .       1.119   .       0.750  .        0.633  .
  21.25    1.161   .       1.026   .       0.687  .        0.581  .
  21.87    1.064   .       0.941  .        0.630  .        0.533  .
  22.50    0.976  .        0.863  .        0.578  .        0.488 .
  23.12    0.895  .        0.791  .        0.530  .        0.448 .
  23.75    0.821  .        0.725  .        0.486 .         0.411 .
  24.37    0.753  .        0.665  .        0.446 .         0.377 .
  25.00    0.690  .        0.610  .        0.409 .         0.345 .

Figure 3: Some fairly long route flap cycles, repeated for 12 minutes,

                 followed by a period of stability.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 25] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 The reuse list is used to provide a means of fast evaluation of route
 that had been suppressed, but had been stable long enough to be
 reused again or had been suppressed long enough that it can be
 treated as a new route.  The following two operations are described.
   1.  Inserting into a reuse list (Section 4.8.6)
   2.  Reuse list processing every delta-t seconds (Section 4.8.7)

4.8.1 Processing a New Peer or New Routes

 When a peer comes up, no action is required if the routes had no
 previous history of instability, for example if this is the first
 time the peer is coming up and announcing these routes.  For each
 route, the pointer to the damping structure would be zeroed and route
 used.  The same action is taken for a new route or a route that has
 been down long enough that the figure of merit reached zero and the
 damping structure was deleted.

4.8.2 Processing Unreachable Messages

 When a route is withdrawn or changed (Section 4.8.4 describes how a
 change is handled), the following procedure is used.
 If there is no previous stability history (the damping structure
 pointer is zero), then:
   1.  allocate a damping structure
   2.  set figure-of-merit = 1
   3.  withdraw the route
 Otherwise, if there is an existing damping structure, then:
   1.  set t-diff = t-now - t-updated
   2.  if (t-diff puts you off the end of the array) {
    setfigure-of-merit =1
  }else {
    setfigure-of-merit =figure-of-merit *decay-array-ok [t-diff ]+ 1
    if(figure-of-merit >ceiling) {
      setfigure-of-merit =ceiling

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 26] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

   3.  remove the route from a reuse list if it is on one
   4.  withdraw the route unless it is already suppressed
 In either case then:
   1.  set t-updated = t-now
   2.  insert into a reuse list (see Section 4.8.6)
 If there was a stability history, the previous value of the stability
 figure of merit is decayed.  This is done using the decay array
 (decay-array).  The index is determined by subtracting the current
 time and the last time updated, then dividing by the time
 granularity.  If the index is zero, the figure of merit is unchanged
 (no decay).  If it is greater than the array size, it is zeroed.
 Otherwise use the index to fetch a decay array element and multiply
 the figure of merit by the array element.  If using the suggested
 scaled integer method, shift down half an integer.  Add the scaled
 penalty for one more unreachable (shown above as 1).  If the result
 is above the ceiling replace it with the ceiling value.  Now update
 the last time updated field (preferably taking into account how much
 time was truncated before doing the decay calculation).
 When a route becomes unreachable, alternate paths must be considered.
 This process is complicated slightly if different configuration
 parameters are used in the presence or absence of viable alternate
 paths.  If all of these alternate paths have been suppressed because
 there had previously been an alternate route and the new route
 withdrawal changes that condition, the suppressed alternate paths
 must be reevaluated.  They should be reevaluated in order of normal
 route preference.  When one of these alternate routes is encountered
 that had been suppressed but is now usable since there is no
 alternate route, no further routes need to be reevaluated.  This only
 applies if routes are given two different reuse thresholds, one for
 use when there is an alternate path and a higher threshold to use
 when suppressing the route would result in making the destination
 completely unreachable.

4.8.3 Processing Route Advertisements

 When a route is readvertised if there is no damping structure, then
 the procedure is the same as in Section 4.8.1.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 27] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

   1.  don't create a new damping structure
   2.  use the route
 If an damping structure exists, the figure of merit is decayed and
 the figure of merit and last time updated fields are updated.  A
 decision is now made as to whether the route can be used immediately
 or needs to be suppressed for some period of time.
   1.  set t-diff = t-now - t-updated
   2.  if (t-diff puts you off the end of the array) {
         set figure-of-merit =0
       }else {
         set figure-of-merit= figure-of-merit* decay-array-ng[t-diff]
   3.  if ( not suppressed and figure-of-merit < cut ) {
         use the route
       }else if( suppressed and figure-of-merit< reuse) {
         set state tonot suppressed
         remove the route from a reuse list
         use the route
       }else {
         set state to suppressed
         don't use the route
         insert into a reuse list (see Section 4.8.6)
   4.  if ( figure-of-merit > 0 ) {
         set t-updated= t-now
       }else {

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 28] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

         recover memory for damping struct
         zero pointer to damping struct
 If the route is deemed usable, a search for the current best route
 must be made.  The newly reachable route is then evaluated according
 to the BGP protocol rules for route selection.
 If the new route is usable, the previous best route is examined.
 Prior to route comparisons, the current best route may have to be
 reevaluated if separate parameter sets are used depending on the
 presence or absence of an alternate route.  If there had been no
 alternate the previous best route may be suppressed.
 If the new route is to be suppressed it is placed on a reuse list
 only if it would have been preferred to the current best route had
 the new route been accepted as stable.  There is no reason to queue a
 route on a reuse list if after the route becomes usable it would not
 be used anyway due to the existence of a more preferred route.  Such
 a route would not have to be reevaluated unless the preferred route
 became unreachable.  As specified here, the less preferred route
 would be reevaluated and potentially used or potentially added to a
 reuse list when processing the withdrawal of a more preferred best

4.8.4 Processing Route Changes

 If a route is replaced by a peer router by supplying a new path, the
 route that is being replaced should be treated as if an unreachable
 were received (see Section 4.8.2).  This will occur when a peer
 somewhere back in the AS path is continuously switching between two
 AS paths and that peer is not damping route flap (or applying less
 damping).  There is no way to determine if one AS path is stable and
 the other is flapping, or if they are both flapping.  If the cycle is
 sufficiently short compared to convergence times neither route
 through that peer will deliver packets very reliably.  Since there is
 no way to affect the peer such that it chooses the stable of the two
 AS paths, the only viable option is to penalize both routes by
 considering each change as an unreachable followed by a route

4.8.5 Processing A Peer Router Loss

 When a peer routing session is broken, either all individual routes
 advertised by that peer may be marked as unstable, or the peering
 session itself may be marked as unstable.  Marking the peer will save

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 29] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 considerable memory.  Since the individual routes are advertised as
 unreachable to routers beyond the immediate problem, per route state
 will be incurred beyond the peer immediately adjacent to the BGP
 session that went down.  If the instability continues, the
 immediately adjacent router need only keep track of the peer
 stability history.  The routers beyond that point will receive no
 further advertisements or withdrawal of routes and will dispose of
 the damping structure over time.
 BGP notification through an optional transitive attribute that
 damping will already be applied may be considered in the future to
 reduce the number of routers that incur damping structure storage

4.8.6 Inserting into the Reuse Timer List

 The reuse lists are used to provide a means of fast evaluation of
 route that had been suppressed, but had been stable long enough to be
 reused again.  The data structure consists of a series of list heads.
 Each list contains a set of routes that are scheduled for
 reevaluation at approximately the same time.  The set of reuse list
 heads are treated as a circular array.  Refer to Figure 4.
 A simple implementation of the circular array of list heads would be
 an array containing the list heads.  An offset is used when accessing
 the array.  The offset would identify the first list.  The Nth list
 would be at the index corresponding to N plus the offset modulo the
 number of list heads.  This design will be assumed in the examples
 that follow.
 A key requirement is to be able to insert an entry in the most
 appropriate queue with a minimum of computation.  The computation is
 given only the current value of figure-of-merit.  Instead of a
 computation which would involve a logarithm, the reuse array (reuse-
 array[]) described in Section 4.6 is used.  The array, scale, and
 bounds are precomputed to map figure-of-merit to the nearest list
 head without requiring a logarithm to be computed (see Section 4.5).

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 30] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

     +-+    +-+    +-+          non-empty linked list means
     | |    | |    | |     <--  that there are routes with
     +-+    +-+    +-+          defered action to be taken
      ^      ^      ^           N * delta-reuse seconds later.
      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+      +------+
   | list | list | list | list | list |  ... | list |
   | head | head | head | head | head |  ... | head |
   +------+------+------+------+------+      +------+
      ^      ^      ^      ^      ^             ^
     Nth    1st    2nd    3rd    4th           N-1
     offset to first list
     (the offset is incremented every delta-reuse seconds)
                 Figure 4: Reuse List Data Structures
 Note that in the following sections the operator prefix notation
 "modulo a b" means "b % a" in C language algebraic operator notation.
 For example, "modulo 16 1023" would be 15.
   1.  scale figure-of-merit for the index array lookup producing
   2.  check index against the array bound
   3.  if (within the array bound) {
         set index =reuse-array [index ]
       }else {
         set index =reuse-list-size -1
   4.  insert into the list
         reuse-list[ moduloreuse-list-size (index +offset )]
 Choosing the correct reuse list involves only a multiply and shift to
 do the scaling, an integer truncation, then an array lookup in the
 reuse array (reuse-array[]).  The value retrieved from the reuse
 array is used to select a reuse list.  The reuse list is a circular
 list.  The most common method of implementing a circular list is to
 use an array and apply an offset and modulo operation to pick the
 correct array entry.  The offset is incremented to rotate the
 circular list.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 31] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

4.8.7 Handling Reuse Timer Events

 The granularity of the reuse timer should be more coarse than that of
 the decay timer.  As a result, when the reuse timer fires, suppressed
 routes should be decayed by multiple increments of decay time.  Some
 computation can be avoided by always inserting into the reuse list
 corresponding to one time increment past reuse eligibility.  In cases
 where the reuse lists have a longer "memory" than the "decay memory"
 (described above), all of the routes in the first queue will be
 available for immediate reuse if reachable or the history entry could
 be disposed of if unreachable.
 When it is time to advance the lists, the first queue on the reuse
 list must be processed and the circular queue must be rotated.  Using
 an array and an offset as a circular array (as described in Section
 4.8.6), the algorithm below is repeated every delta-reuse seconds.
   1.  save a pointer to the current zeroth queue head and zero the
       list head entry
   2.  set offset = modulo reuse-list-size ( offset + 1 ), thereby
       rotating the circular queue of list-heads
   3.  if ( the saved list head pointer is non-empty )
       for each entry {
         sett-diff =t-now -t-updated
         set figure-of-merit =figure-of-merit *decay-array-ok [t-diff ]
         sett-updated =t-now
         if( figure-of-merit< reuse)
           reuse the route
           re-insert into another list (seeSection 4.8.6)
 The value of the zeroth list head would be saved and the array entry
 itself zeroed.  The list heads would then be advanced by incrementing
 the offset.  Starting with the saved head of the old zeroth list,
 each route would be reevaluated and used, disposed of entirely or
 requeued if it were not ready for reuse.  If a route is used, it must

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 32] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 be treated as if it were a new route advertisement as described in
 Section 4.8.3.

5 Implementation Experience

 The first implementations of "route flap damping" were the route
 server daemon (rsd) coding by Ramesh Govindan (ISI) and the Cisco IOS
 implementation by Ravi Chandra.  Both implementations first became
 available in 1995 and have been used extensively.  The rsd
 implementation has been in use in route servers at the NSF funded
 Network Access Points (NAPs) and at other major Internet
 interconnects.  The Cisco IOS version has been in use by Internet
 Service Providers worldwide.  The rsd implementation has been
 integrated in releases of gated (see and is
 available in commercial routers using gated.
 There are now more than 2 years of BGP route damping deployment
 experience.  Some problems have occurred in deployment.  So far these
 are solvable by careful implementation of the algorithm and by
 careful deployment.  In some topologies coordinated deployment can be
 helpful and in all cases disclosure of the use of route damping and
 the parameters used is highly beneficial in debugging connectivity
 Some of the problems have occurred due to subtle implementation
 errors.  Route damping should never be applied on IBGP learned
 routes.  To do so can open the possibility for persistent route
 loops.  When IBGP routes within an AS are inconsistent, route loops
 can easily form.  Suppressing IBGP learned routes causes such
 inconsistencies.  Implementations should disallow configuration of
 route damping on IBGP peers.
 Penalties for instability should only be applied when a route is
 removed or replaced and not when a route is added.  If damping
 parameters are applied consistently, this implementation constraint
 will result in a stable secondary path being preferred over an
 unstable primary path due to damping of the primary path near the
 In topologies where multiple AS paths to a given destination exist
 flapping of the primary path can result in suppression of the
 secondary path.  This can occur if no damping is being done near the
 cause of the route flap or if damping is being applied more
 aggressively by a distant AS. This problem can be solved in one of
 two ways.  Damping can be done near the source of the route flap and
 the damping parameters can be made consistent.  Alternately, a
 distant AS which insists on more aggressive damping parameters can
 disable penalizing routes on AS path change, penalizing routes only

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 33] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 if they are withdrawn completely.  In order to do so, the
 implementation must support this option (as described in Section
 Route flap should be damped near the source.  Single homed
 destinations can be covered by static routes.  Aggregation provides
 another means of damping.  Providers should damp their own internal
 problems, however damping on IGP link state origination is not yet
 implemented by router vendors.  Providers which use multiple AS
 within their own topology should damp between their own AS. Providers
 should damp adjacent providers AS.
 Damping provides a means to limit propagation excessive route change
 when connectivity is highly intermittent.  Once a problem is
 corrected, damping state corresponding to the prefixes known to be
 damped due to the problem just fixed can be manually cleared.  In
 order to determine where damping may have occurred after connectivity
 problems, providers should publish their damping parameters.
 Providers should be willing to manually clear damping on specific
 prefixes or AS paths at the request of other providers when the
 request is accompanied by credible assurance that the problem has
 truly been addressed.
 By damping their own routing information, providers can reduce their
 own need to make requests of other providers to clear damping state
 after correcting a problem.  Providers should be pro-active and
 monitor what prefixes and paths are suppressed in addition to
 monitoring link states and BGP session state.


 This work and this document may not have been completed without the
 advise, comments and encouragement of Yakov Rekhter (Cisco).  Dennis
 Ferguson (MCI) provided a description of the algorithms in the gated
 BGP implementation and many valuable comments and insights.  David
 Bolen (ANS) and Jordan Becker (ANS) provided valuable comments,
 particularly regarding early simulations.  Over four years elapsed
 between the initial draft presented to the BGP WG (October 1993) and
 this iteration.  At the time of this writing there is significant
 experience with two implementations, each having been deployed since
 1995.  One was led by Ramesh Govindan (ISI) for the NSF Routing
 Arbiter project.  The second was led by Ravi Chandra (Cisco).  Sean
 Doran (Sprintlink) and Serpil Bayraktar (ANS) were among the early
 independent testers of the Cisco pre-beta implementation.  Valuable
 comments and implementation feedback were shared by many individuals
 on the IETF IDR WG and the RIPE Routing Work Group and in NANOG and

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 34] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

 Thanks also to Rob Coltun (Fore Systems), Sanjay Wadhwa (Fore), John
 Scudder (IENG), Eric Bennet (IENG) and Jayesh Bhatt (Bay Networks)
 for pointing out errors in the math uncovered during coding of more
 recent implementations.  These errors appeared in the details of the
 implementation suggestion sections written after the first two
 implementations were completed.  Thanks also to Vern Paxson for a
 very thorough review resulting in numerous clarifications to the


 [1] Gross, P., and Y. Rekhter, "Application of the border gateway
     protocol in the internet", RFC 1268, October 1991.
 [2] ISO/IEC.  Iso/iec 10747 - information technology - telecommuni-
     cations and information exchange between systems - protocol for
     exchange of inter-domain routeing information among intermediate
     systems to support forwarding of iso 8473 pdus.  Technical
     report, International Organization for Standardization, August
 [3] Lougheed, K., and Y. Rekhter, "A border gateway protocol 3 (BGP-
     3)", RFC 1267, October 1991.
 [4] Rekhter, Y., and P. Gross, "Application of the border gateway
     protocol in the internet", RFC 1772, March 1995.
 [5] Rekhter, Y., and T. Li, "A border gateway protocol 4 (BGP-4)",
     RFC 1771, March 1995.
 [6] Rekhter, Y., and C. Topolcic,"Exchanging routing information
     across provider boundaries in the CIDR environment", RFC 1520,
     September 1993.
 [7] Traina, P., "BGP-4 protocol analysis", RFC 1774, March 1995.
 [8] Traina, P., "Experience with the BGP-4 protocol", RFC 1773, March

Security Considerations

 The practices outlined in this document do not further weaken the
 security of the routing protocols.  Denial of service is possible in
 an already insecure routing environment but these practices only
 contribute to the persistence of such attacks and do not impact the
 methods of prevention and the methods of determining the source.

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 35] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

Authors' Addresses

 Curtis Villamizar
 Ravi Chandra
 Cisco Systems
 Ramesh Govindan

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 36] RFC 2439 BGP Route Flap Damping November 1998

Full Copyright Statement

 Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.
 This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
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 or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
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 The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
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 This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

Villamizar, et. al. Standards Track [Page 37]

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