System loads Web pages 34 percent faster with Polaris

by Adeel Younas
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web page loading

The internet is becoming a rat race. As internet connections get faster and new techniques emerge to decrease website loading times, web pages are becoming more and more complex, negating those improvements in loading times. Tech companies like Google, Opera and Facebook have been striving to introduce new technologies which help make their specific services and apps faster. These improvements have so far failed to have a major effect on all internet.

The Internet is become a race, as internet connections get faster new techniques are emerging to decrease website loading times. For companies, what’s even worse is what comes after: users abandoning their site in droves. Amazon, for example, estimates that every 100-millisecond delay cuts its profits by 1 percent.

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MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard University have developed a system that decreases page-load times by 34 percent. Named “Polaris,” the framework determines how to overlap the downloading of a page’s objects, such that the overall page requires less time to load.


“It can take up to 100 milliseconds each time a browser has to cross a mobile network to fetch a piece of data,” says PhD student Ravi Netravali, who is first author on a paper about Polaris that he will present at this week’s USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation. “As pages increase in complexity, they often require multiple trips that create delays that really add up. Our approach minimizes the number of round trips so that we can substantially speed up a page’s load-time.”

The researchers evaluated their system across a range of network conditions on 200 of the world’s most popular websites, including, (The New York Times), and

The researcher tested their system across 200 top websites and the results were satisfying with 34 percent faster web page loading, they tested browser on the heavy websites and they were loading fast as well.

How Web pages work

Before you type in a URL, your browser doesn’t actually know what the page looks like. To load the page, the browser has to reach across the network to fetch “objects” such as HTML files, JavaScript source code, and images. Once an object is fetched, the browser evaluates it to add the object’s content to the page that the user sees.

How Polaris fits in

What Polaris does is automatically track all of the interactions between objects, which can number in the thousands for a single page. For example, it notes when one object reads the data in another object, or updates a value in another object. It then uses its detailed log of these interactions to create a “dependency graph” for the page.

“For a Web browser, loading all of a page’s objects is like visiting all of the cities,” Mickens says. “Polaris effectively gives you a list of all the cities before your trip actually begins. It’s what allows the browser to load a webpage more quickly.”

Polaris is particularly suited for larger, more complex sites, which aligns nicely with recent trends of modern pages ballooning to thousands of (JavaScript-heavy) objects. The system is also valuable for mobile networks, since those tend to have larger delays than wired networks.


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