This paper studies the issues arising in the reconfiguration phase of broadcast optical networks. Although the ability to dynamically optimize the network under changing traffic conditions has been recognized as one of the key features of multiwavelength optical networks, this is the first in-depth study of the tradeoffs involved in carrying out the reconfiguration process. We develop and compare reconfiguration policies to determine when to reconfigure the network, and we present an approach to carry out the network transition by describing a class of strategies that determine how to retune the optical transceivers. We identify the degree of load balancing and the number of retunings as two important, albeit conflicting, objectives in the design of reconfiguration policies, naturally leading to a formulation of the problem as a Markovian decision process. Consequently,we develop a systematic and flexible framework in which to view and contrast reconfiguration policies. We show how an appropriate selection of reward and cost functions can be used to achieve the desired balance among various performance criteria of interest. We conduct a comprehensive evaluation of reconfiguration policies and retuning strategies and demonstrate the benefits of reconfiguration through both analytical and simulation results. The result of our work is a set of practical techniques for managing the network transition phase that can be directly applied to networks of large size. Although our work is in the context of broadcast networks, the results can be applied to any wavelength-division multiplexing network where it is necessary to multiplex traffic from a large user population into a number of wavelengths.
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