Pull-Based Messaging

In this work, we argue that the difficulties in controlling unwanted Internet traffic, such as Email SPAM, stem from the fact that many Internet applications are fundamentally sender-driven and distinctly lack receiver control over traffic delivery. However, since only receivers know what they want to receive, receiver-driven approaches may often have clear advantages in restraining unwanted traffic. We re-examine the implications of the two common traffic delivery models: sender-push and receiver-pull. In the sender-push model, a sender can at will deliver traffic to a receiver, who can only passively accept the traffic, such as in the SMTP-based Email delivery system. In contrast, in the receiver-pull model, receivers can regulate if and when they wish to retrieve data, such as the HTTP-based web access system. We argue that the problem of unwanted Internet traffic can be mitigated to a great extent if the receiver-pull model is employed by Internet applications, whenever appropriate. Using three popular applications -- Email, mobile text messages, and asynchronous voice messages -- as examples, we demonstrate that asynchronous communication protocols can be easily designed using the receiver-pull communication model to suppress unwanted Internet traffic. This is a collaborative project with Florida State University.


  1. Zhenhai Duan, Yingfei Dong, and Kartik Gopalan, DMTP: Controlling Spam Through Message Delivery Differentiation, In Computer Networks Journal, Volume 51, Issue 10, July 2007. [pdf] [html] [bibtex]
  2. Zhenhai Duan, Kartik Gopalan, and Xin Yuan, Behavioral Characteristics of Spammers and Their Network Reachability Properties, In Proc. of the International Conference on Communications (ICC), Glasgow, UK, June 2007. [pdf] [bibtex]
  3. Zhenhai Duan, Yingfei Dong, Kartik Gopalan, DMTP: Controlling Spam Through Message Delivery Differentiation, In Proc. of Networking 2006, Coimbra, Portugal, May, 2006. [pdf] [bibtex]
  4. Zhenhai Duan, Kartik Gopalan, Yingfei Dong, Push vs. Pull: Implications of Protocol Design on Controlling Unwanted Traffic, In Proc. of USENIX SRUTI 2005 Workshop, MIT, Cambridge, MA, July 2005. [pdf] [bibtex]
  5. Zhenhai Duan, Yingfei Dong, Kartik Gopalan, A Differentiated Message Delivery Architecture to Control Spam, In Proc. of Workshop on Security in Networks and Distributed Systems (SNDS05), Fukuoka, Japan, July 2005. [pdf] [bibtex]