Few things are as frustrating as waiting for webpages to load. For companies whats even worse is that this delay in webpage loading often results in losses in profit. Amazon, for example, loses 1 percept of profits for every 100 millisecond delay. To combat delays in web page loading researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Harvard University teamed up to develop a system that decreases webpage loading times by up to 34 percept. The project is named Polaris and aims to reduce loading time by determining how to overlap the downloading of a page’s objects in a way that requires less time to load.
It can take up to 100 millisecond each time a browser has to cross a network to retrieve a piece of data. More intricate websites often require multiple trips that ultimately help contribute to further delays. Polaris’s approach is to minimize the number of round trips so that it can dramatically increase a page’s loading time.
To load a web page, a browser has to retrieve objects across a network. Once an object is retrieved, the browser analyzes it and adds the object’s content onto the web page that we see. However, analyzing one object requires having to retrieve and analyze more objects that are dependent on the original object. Browsers can’t actually see all dependent objects because of the way they are represented in HTML. As a direct result, browsers have to take into consideration the way they load objects, which increases the cross-network trips and contributes to slower web page loading.
Polaris aims to improve this slow down by automatically tracking all of the interaction between objects for a single web page. It then uses a detailed log of all these interactions in order to create a “dependency graph” for the web page. It essentially creates a fastest possible route that expedites loading time and eliminates cross-network trips and round trips.
Polaris is particularly appropriate for larger, complex sites that face greater web page loading times. These sites often grow to include up to thousands of data heavy objects in a single web page. In addition, it is also partially befitting for mobile networks, which tend the have larger and longer delays. Polaris’s creation is a major stepping stone in the path towards eliminating web page loading and improving our online experience.