Reducing probes for quality of transmission estimation in optical networks with active learning


Estimating the quality of transmission (QoT) of a lightpath before its establishment is a critical procedure for efficient design and management of optical networks. Recently, supervised machine learning (ML) techniques for QoT estimation have been proposed as an effective alternative to well-established, yet approximated, analytic models that often require the introduction of conservative margins to compensate for model inaccuracies and uncertainties. Unfortunately, to ensure high estimation accuracy, the training set (i.e., the set of historical field data, or "samples," required to train these supervised ML algorithms) must be very large, while in real network deployments, the number of monitored/monitorable lightpaths is limited by several practical considerations. This is especially true for lightpaths with an above-threshold bit error rate (BER) (i.e., malfunctioning or wrongly dimensioned lightpaths), which are infrequently observed during network operation. Samples with above-threshold BERs can be acquired by deploying probe lightpaths, but at the cost of increased operational expenditures and wastage of spectral resources. In this paper, we propose to use active learning to reduce the number of probes needed for ML-based QoT estimation. We build an estimation model based on Gaussian processes, which allows iterative identification of those QoT instances that minimize estimation uncertainty. Numerical results using synthetically generated datasets show that, by using the proposed active learning approach, we can achieve the same performance of standard offline supervised ML methods, but with a remarkable reduction (at least 5% and up to 75%) in the number of training samples

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