16. Calculation of the routing table
This section details the OSPF routing table calculation. Using its
attached areas' link state databases as input, a router runs the
following algorithm, building its routing table step by step. At
each step, the router must access individual pieces of the link state
databases (e.g., a router-LSA originated by a certain router). This
access is performed by the lookup function discussed in Section 12.2.
The lookup process may return an LSA whose LS age is equal to MaxAge.
Such an LSA should not be used in the routing table calculation, and
is treated just as if the lookup process had failed.
The OSPF routing table's organization is explained in Section 11.
Two examples of the routing table build process are presented in
Sections 11.2 and 11.3. This process can be broken into the
(1) The present routing table is invalidated. The routing table is
built again from scratch. The old routing table is saved so
that changes in routing table entries can be identified.
(2) The intra-area routes are calculated by building the shortest-
path tree for each attached area. In particular, all routing
table entries whose Destination Type is "area border router" are
calculated in this step. This step is described in two parts.
At first the tree is constructed by only considering those links
between routers and transit networks. Then the stub networks
are incorporated into the tree. During the area's shortest-path
tree calculation, the area's TransitCapability is also
calculated for later use in Step 4.
(3) The inter-area routes are calculated, through examination of
summary-LSAs. If the router is attached to multiple areas
(i.e., it is an area border router), only backbone summary-LSAs
(4) In area border routers connecting to one or more transit areas
(i.e, non-backbone areas whose TransitCapability is found to be
TRUE), the transit areas' summary-LSAs are examined to see
whether better paths exist using the transit areas than were
found in Steps 2-3 above.
(5) Routes to external destinations are calculated, through
examination of AS-external-LSAs. The locations of the AS
boundary routers (which originate the AS-external-LSAs) have
been determined in steps 2-4.
Steps 2-5 are explained in further detail below.
Changes made to routing table entries as a result of these
calculations can cause the OSPF protocol to take further actions.
For example, a change to an intra-area route will cause an area
border router to originate new summary-LSAs (see Section 12.4). See
Section 16.7 for a complete list of the OSPF protocol actions
resulting from routing table changes.
16.1. Calculating the shortest-path tree for an area
This calculation yields the set of intra-area routes associated with
an area (called hereafter Area A). A router calculates the
shortest-path tree using itself as the root. The formation of the
shortest path tree is done here in two stages. In the first stage,
only links between routers and transit networks are considered.
Using the Dijkstra algorithm, a tree is formed from this subset of
the link state database. In the second stage, leaves are added to
the tree by considering the links to stub networks.
The procedure will be explained using the graph terminology that was
introduced in Section 2. The area's link state database is
represented as a directed graph. The graph's vertices are routers,
transit networks and stub networks. The first stage of the procedure
concerns only the transit vertices (routers and transit networks) and
their connecting links. Throughout the shortest path calculation,
the following data is also associated with each transit vertex:
Vertex (node) ID
A 32-bit number uniquely identifying the vertex. For router
vertices this is the router's OSPF Router ID. For network
vertices, this is the IP address of the network's Designated
Each transit vertex has an associated LSA. For router
vertices, this is a router-LSA. For transit networks, this
is a network-LSA (which is actually originated by the
network's Designated Router). In any case, the LSA's Link
State ID is always equal to the above Vertex ID.
List of next hops
The list of next hops for the current set of shortest paths
from the root to this vertex. There can be multiple
shortest paths due to the equal-cost multipath capability.
Each next hop indicates the outgoing router interface to use
when forwarding traffic to the destination. On broadcast,
Point-to-MultiPoint and NBMA networks, the next hop also
includes the IP address of the next router (if any) in the
path towards the destination.
Distance from root
The link state cost of the current set of shortest paths
from the root to the vertex. The link state cost of a path
is calculated as the sum of the costs of the path's
constituent links (as advertised in router-LSAs and
network-LSAs). One path is said to be "shorter" than
another if it has a smaller link state cost.
The first stage of the procedure (i.e., the Dijkstra algorithm) can
now be summarized as follows. At each iteration of the algorithm,
there is a list of candidate vertices. Paths from the root to these
vertices have been found, but not necessarily the shortest ones.
However, the paths to the candidate vertex that is closest to the
root are guaranteed to be shortest; this vertex is added to the
shortest-path tree, removed from the candidate list, and its adjacent
vertices are examined for possible addition to/modification of the
candidate list. The algorithm then iterates again. It terminates
when the candidate list becomes empty.
The following steps describe the algorithm in detail. Remember that
we are computing the shortest path tree for Area A. All references
to link state database lookup below are from Area A's database.
(1) Initialize the algorithm's data structures. Clear the list
of candidate vertices. Initialize the shortest-path tree to
only the root (which is the router doing the calculation).
Set Area A's TransitCapability to FALSE.
(2) Call the vertex just added to the tree vertex V. Examine
the LSA associated with vertex V. This is a lookup in the
Area A's link state database based on the Vertex ID. If
this is a router-LSA, and bit V of the router-LSA (see
Section A.4.2) is set, set Area A's TransitCapability to
TRUE. In any case, each link described by the LSA gives the
cost to an adjacent vertex. For each described link, (say
it joins vertex V to vertex W):
(a) If this is a link to a stub network, examine the next
link in V's LSA. Links to stub networks will be
considered in the second stage of the shortest path
(b) Otherwise, W is a transit vertex (router or transit
network). Look up the vertex W's LSA (router-LSA or
network-LSA) in Area A's link state database. If the
LSA does not exist, or its LS age is equal to MaxAge, or
it does not have a link back to vertex V, examine the
next link in V's LSA.
(c) If vertex W is already on the shortest-path tree,
examine the next link in the LSA.
(d) Calculate the link state cost D of the resulting path
from the root to vertex W. D is equal to the sum of the
link state cost of the (already calculated) shortest
path to vertex V and the advertised cost of the link
between vertices V and W. If D is:
o Greater than the value that already appears for
vertex W on the candidate list, then examine the
o Equal to the value that appears for vertex W on the
candidate list, calculate the set of next hops that
result from using the advertised link. Input to
this calculation is the destination (W), and its
parent (V). This calculation is shown in Section
16.1.1. This set of hops should be added to the
next hop values that appear for W on the candidate
o Less than the value that appears for vertex W on the
candidate list, or if W does not yet appear on the
candidate list, then set the entry for W on the
candidate list to indicate a distance of D from the
root. Also calculate the list of next hops that
result from using the advertised link, setting the
next hop values for W accordingly. The next hop
calculation is described in Section 16.1.1; it takes
as input the destination (W) and its parent (V).
(3) If at this step the candidate list is empty, the shortest-
path tree (of transit vertices) has been completely built
and this stage of the procedure terminates. Otherwise,
choose the vertex belonging to the candidate list that is
closest to the root, and add it to the shortest-path tree
(removing it from the candidate list in the process). Note
that when there is a choice of vertices closest to the root,
network vertices must be chosen before router vertices in
order to necessarily find all equal-cost paths. This is
consistent with the tie-breakers that were introduced in the
modified Dijkstra algorithm used by OSPF's Multicast routing
(4) Possibly modify the routing table. For those routing table
entries modified, the associated area will be set to Area A,
the path type will be set to intra-area, and the cost will
be set to the newly discovered shortest path's calculated
If the newly added vertex is an area border router or AS
boundary router, a routing table entry is added whose
destination type is "router". The Options field found in
the associated router-LSA is copied into the routing table
entry's Optional capabilities field. Call the newly added
vertex Router X. If Router X is the endpoint of one of the
calculating router's virtual links, and the virtual link
uses Area A as Transit area: the virtual link is declared
up, the IP address of the virtual interface is set to the IP
address of the outgoing interface calculated above for
Router X, and the virtual neighbor's IP address is set to
Router X's interface address (contained in Router X's
router-LSA) that points back to the root of the shortest-
path tree; equivalently, this is the interface that points
back to Router X's parent vertex on the shortest-path tree
(similar to the calculation in Section 16.1.1).
If the newly added vertex is a transit network, the routing
table entry for the network is located. The entry's
Destination ID is the IP network number, which can be
obtained by masking the Vertex ID (Link State ID) with its
associated subnet mask (found in the body of the associated
network-LSA). If the routing table entry already exists
(i.e., there is already an intra-area route to the
destination installed in the routing table), multiple
vertices have mapped to the same IP network. For example,
this can occur when a new Designated Router is being
established. In this case, the current routing table entry
should be overwritten if and only if the newly found path is
just as short and the current routing table entry's Link
State Origin has a smaller Link State ID than the newly
added vertex' LSA.
If there is no routing table entry for the network (the
usual case), a routing table entry for the IP network should
be added. The routing table entry's Link State Origin
should be set to the newly added vertex' LSA.
(5) Iterate the algorithm by returning to Step 2.
The stub networks are added to the tree in the procedure's second
stage. In this stage, all router vertices are again examined. Those
that have been determined to be unreachable in the above first phase
are discarded. For each reachable router vertex (call it V), the
associated router-LSA is found in the link state database. Each stub
network link appearing in the LSA is then examined, and the following
steps are executed:
(1) Calculate the distance D of stub network from the root. D
is equal to the distance from the root to the router vertex
(calculated in stage 1), plus the stub network link's
advertised cost. Compare this distance to the current best
cost to the stub network. This is done by looking up the
stub network's current routing table entry. If the
calculated distance D is larger, go on to examine the next
stub network link in the LSA.
(2) If this step is reached, the stub network's routing table
entry must be updated. Calculate the set of next hops that
would result from using the stub network link. This
calculation is shown in Section 16.1.1; input to this
calculation is the destination (the stub network) and the
parent vertex (the router vertex). If the distance D is the
same as the current routing table cost, simply add this set
of next hops to the routing table entry's list of next hops.
In this case, the routing table already has a Link State
Origin. If this Link State Origin is a router-LSA whose
Link State ID is smaller than V's Router ID, reset the Link
State Origin to V's router-LSA.
Otherwise D is smaller than the routing table cost.
Overwrite the current routing table entry by setting the
routing table entry's cost to D, and by setting the entry's
list of next hops to the newly calculated set. Set the
routing table entry's Link State Origin to V's router-LSA.
Then go on to examine the next stub network link.
For all routing table entries added/modified in the second stage, the
associated area will be set to Area A and the path type will be set to
intra-area. When the list of reachable router-LSAs is exhausted, the
second stage is completed. At this time, all intra-area routes
associated with Area A have been determined.
The specification does not require that the above two stage method be
used to calculate the shortest path tree. However, if another
algorithm is used, an identical tree must be produced. For this
reason, it is important to note that links between transit vertices
must be bidirectional in order to be included in the above tree. It
should also be mentioned that more efficient algorithms exist for
calculating the tree; for example, the incremental SPF algorithm
described in [Ref1].
16.1.1. The next hop calculation
This section explains how to calculate the current set of next hops
to use for a destination. Each next hop consists of the outgoing
interface to use in forwarding packets to the destination together
with the IP address of the next hop router (if any). The next hop
calculation is invoked each time a shorter path to the destination is
discovered. This can happen in either stage of the shortest-path
tree calculation (see Section 16.1). In stage 1 of the shortest-path
tree calculation a shorter path is found as the destination is added
to the candidate list, or when the destination's entry on the
candidate list is modified (Step 2d of Stage 1). In stage 2 a
shorter path is discovered each time the destination's routing table
entry is modified (Step 2 of Stage 2).
The set of next hops to use for the destination may be recalculated
several times during the shortest-path tree calculation, as shorter
and shorter paths are discovered. In the end, the destination's
routing table entry will always reflect the next hops resulting from
the absolute shortest path(s).
Input to the next hop calculation is a) the destination and b) its
parent in the current shortest path between the root (the calculating
router) and the destination. The parent is always a transit vertex
(i.e., always a router or a transit network).
If there is at least one intervening router in the current shortest
path between the destination and the root, the destination simply
inherits the set of next hops from the parent. Otherwise, there are
two cases. In the first case, the parent vertex is the root (the
calculating router itself). This means that the destination is
either a directly connected network or directly connected router.
The outgoing interface in this case is simply the OSPF interface
connecting to the destination network/router. If the destination is a
router which connects to the calculating router via a Point-to-
MultiPoint network, the destination's next hop IP address(es) can be
determined by examining the destination's router-LSA: each link
pointing back to the calculating router and having a Link Data field
belonging to the Point-to-MultiPoint network provides an IP address
of the next hop router. If the destination is a directly connected
network, or a router which connects to the calculating router via a
point-to-point interface, no next hop IP address is required. If the
destination is a router connected to the calculating router via a
virtual link, the setting of the next hop should be deferred until
the calculation in Section 16.3.
In the second case, the parent vertex is a network that directly
connects the calculating router to the destination router. The list
of next hops is then determined by examining the destination's
router-LSA. For each link in the router-LSA that points back to the
parent network, the link's Link Data field provides the IP address of
a next hop router. The outgoing interface to use can then be derived
from the next hop IP address (or it can be inherited from the parent
16.2. Calculating the inter-area routes
The inter-area routes are calculated by examining summary-LSAs. If
the router has active attachments to multiple areas, only backbone
summary-LSAs are examined. Routers attached to a single area examine
that area's summary-LSAs. In either case, the summary-LSAs examined
below are all part of a single area's link state database (call it
Summary-LSAs are originated by the area border routers. Each
summary-LSA in Area A is considered in turn. Remember that the
destination described by a summary-LSA is either a network (Type 3
summary-LSAs) or an AS boundary router (Type 4 summary-LSAs). For
(1) If the cost specified by the LSA is LSInfinity, or if the
LSA's LS age is equal to MaxAge, then examine the the next
(2) If the LSA was originated by the calculating router itself,
examine the next LSA.
(3) If it is a Type 3 summary-LSA, and the collection of
destinations described by the summary-LSA equals one of the
router's configured area address ranges (see Section 3.5),
and the particular area address range is active, then the
summary-LSA should be ignored. "Active" means that there
are one or more reachable (by intra-area paths) networks
contained in the area range.
(4) Else, call the destination described by the LSA N (for Type
3 summary-LSAs, N's address is obtained by masking the LSA's
Link State ID with the network/subnet mask contained in the
body of the LSA), and the area border originating the LSA
BR. Look up the routing table entry for BR having Area A as
its associated area. If no such entry exists for router BR
(i.e., BR is unreachable in Area A), do nothing with this
LSA and consider the next in the list. Else, this LSA
describes an inter-area path to destination N, whose cost is
the distance to BR plus the cost specified in the LSA. Call
the cost of this inter-area path IAC.
(5) Next, look up the routing table entry for the destination N.
(If N is an AS boundary router, look up the "router" routing
table entry associated with Area A). If no entry exists for
N or if the entry's path type is "type 1 external" or "type
2 external", then install the inter-area path to N, with
associated area Area A, cost IAC, next hop equal to the list
of next hops to router BR, and Advertising router equal to
(6) Else, if the paths present in the table are intra-area
paths, do nothing with the LSA (intra-area paths are always
(7) Else, the paths present in the routing table are also
inter-area paths. Install the new path through BR if it is
cheaper, overriding the paths in the routing table.
Otherwise, if the new path is the same cost, add it to the
list of paths that appear in the routing table entry.
16.3. Examining transit areas' summary-LSAs
This step is only performed by area border routers attached to one or
more non-backbone areas that are capable of carrying transit traffic
(i.e., "transit areas", or those areas whose TransitCapability
parameter has been set to TRUE in Step 2 of the Dijkstra algorithm
(see Section 16.1).
The purpose of the calculation below is to examine the transit areas
to see whether they provide any better (shorter) paths than the paths
previously calculated in Sections 16.1 and 16.2. Any paths found
that are better than or equal to previously discovered paths are
installed in the routing table.
The calculation proceeds as follows. All the transit areas' summary-
LSAs are examined in turn. Each such summary-LSA describes a route
through a transit area Area A to a Network N (N's address is obtained
by masking the LSA's Link State ID with the network/subnet mask
contained in the body of the LSA) or in the case of a Type 4
summary-LSA, to an AS boundary router N. Suppose also that the
summary-LSA was originated by an area border router BR.
(1) If the cost advertised by the summary-LSA is LSInfinity, or
if the LSA's LS age is equal to MaxAge, then examine the
(2) If the summary-LSA was originated by the calculating router
itself, examine the next LSA.
(3) Look up the routing table entry for N. (If N is an AS
boundary router, look up the "router" routing table entry
associated with the backbone area). If it does not exist, or
if the route type is other than intra-area or inter-area, or
if the area associated with the routing table entry is not
the backbone area, then examine the next LSA. In other
words, this calculation only updates backbone intra-area
routes found in Section 16.1 and inter-area routes found in
(4) Look up the routing table entry for the advertising router
BR associated with the Area A. If it is unreachable, examine
the next LSA. Otherwise, the cost to destination N is the
sum of the cost in BR's Area A routing table entry and the
cost advertised in the LSA. Call this cost IAC.
(5) If this cost is less than the cost occurring in N's routing
table entry, overwrite N's list of next hops with those used
for BR, and set N's routing table cost to IAC. Else, if IAC
is the same as N's current cost, add BR's list of next hops
to N's list of next hops. In any case, the area associated
with N's routing table entry must remain the backbone area,
and the path type (either intra-area or inter-area) must
also remain the same.
. Area 1 (transit) . +
. . |
. +---+1 1+---+100 |
. 1/+---+********* +---+ |
. /******* . |
. 1/*Virtual . |
1+---+/* Link . Net|work
=======|RT1|* . | N1
+---+\ . |
. \ . |
. \ . |
. 1\+---+1 1+---+20 |
. +---+ +---+ |
. . |
Figure 17: Routing through transit areas
It is important to note that the above calculation never makes
unreachable destinations reachable, but instead just potentially
finds better paths to already reachable destinations. The
calculation installs any better cost found into the routing table
entry, from which it may be readvertised in summary-LSAs to other
As an example of the calculation, consider the Autonomous System
pictured in Figure 17. There is a single non-backbone area (Area 1)
that physically divides the backbone into two separate pieces. To
maintain connectivity of the backbone, a virtual link has been
configured between routers RT1 and RT4. On the right side of the
figure, Network N1 belongs to the backbone. The dotted lines indicate
that there is a much shorter intra-area backbone path between router
RT5 and Network N1 (cost 20) than there is between Router RT4 and
Network N1 (cost 100). Both Router RT4 and Router RT5 will inject
summary-LSAs for Network N1 into Area 1.
After the shortest-path tree has been calculated for the backbone in
Section 16.1, Router RT1 (left end of the virtual link) will have
calculated a path through Router RT4 for all data traffic destined
for Network N1. However, since Router RT5 is so much closer to
Network N1, all routers internal to Area 1 (e.g., Routers RT2 and
RT3) will forward their Network N1 traffic towards Router RT5,
instead of RT4. And indeed, after examining Area 1's summary-LSAs by
the above calculation, Router RT1 will also forward Network N1
traffic towards RT5. Note that in this example the virtual link
enables transit data traffic to be forwarded through Area 1, but the
actual path the transit data traffic takes does not follow the
virtual link. In other words, virtual links allow transit traffic to
be forwarded through an area, but do not dictate the precise path
that the traffic will take.
16.4. Calculating AS external routes
AS external routes are calculated by examining AS-external-LSAs.
Each of the AS-external-LSAs is considered in turn. Most AS-
external-LSAs describe routes to specific IP destinations. An AS-
external-LSA can also describe a default route for the Autonomous
System (Destination ID = DefaultDestination, network/subnet mask =
0x00000000). For each AS-external-LSA:
(1) If the cost specified by the LSA is LSInfinity, or if the
LSA's LS age is equal to MaxAge, then examine the next LSA.
(2) If the LSA was originated by the calculating router itself,
examine the next LSA.
(3) Call the destination described by the LSA N. N's address is
obtained by masking the LSA's Link State ID with the
network/subnet mask contained in the body of the LSA. Look
up the routing table entries (potentially one per attached
area) for the AS boundary router (ASBR) that originated the
LSA. If no entries exist for router ASBR (i.e., ASBR is
unreachable), do nothing with this LSA and consider the next
in the list.
Else, this LSA describes an AS external path to destination
N. Examine the forwarding address specified in the AS-
external-LSA. This indicates the IP address to which
packets for the destination should be forwarded.
If the forwarding address is set to 0.0.0.0, packets should
be sent to the ASBR itself. Among the multiple routing table
entries for the ASBR, select the preferred entry as follows.
If RFC1583Compatibility is set to "disabled", prune the set
of routing table entries for the ASBR as described in
Section 16.4.1. In any case, among the remaining routing
table entries, select the routing table entry with the least
cost; when there are multiple least cost routing table
entries the entry whose associated area has the largest OSPF
Area ID (when considered as an unsigned 32-bit integer) is
If the forwarding address is non-zero, look up the
forwarding address in the routing table. The matching
routing table entry must specify an intra-area or inter-area
path; if no such path exists, do nothing with the LSA and
consider the next in the list.
(4) Let X be the cost specified by the preferred routing table
entry for the ASBR/forwarding address, and Y the cost
specified in the LSA. X is in terms of the link state
metric, and Y is a type 1 or 2 external metric.
(5) Look up the routing table entry for the destination N. If
no entry exists for N, install the AS external path to N,
with next hop equal to the list of next hops to the
forwarding address, and advertising router equal to ASBR.
If the external metric type is 1, then the path-type is set
to type 1 external and the cost is equal to X+Y. If the
external metric type is 2, the path-type is set to type 2
external, the link state component of the route's cost is X,
and the type 2 cost is Y.
(6) Compare the AS external path described by the LSA with the
existing paths in N's routing table entry, as follows. If
the new path is preferred, it replaces the present paths in
N's routing table entry. If the new path is of equal
preference, it is added to N's routing table entry's list of
(a) Intra-area and inter-area paths are always preferred
over AS external paths.
(b) Type 1 external paths are always preferred over type 2
external paths. When all paths are type 2 external
paths, the paths with the smallest advertised type 2
metric are always preferred.
(c) If the new AS external path is still indistinguishable
from the current paths in the N's routing table entry,
and RFC1583Compatibility is set to "disabled", select
the preferred paths based on the intra-AS paths to the
ASBR/forwarding addresses, as specified in Section
(d) If the new AS external path is still indistinguishable
from the current paths in the N's routing table entry,
select the preferred path based on a least cost
comparison. Type 1 external paths are compared by
looking at the sum of the distance to the forwarding
address and the advertised type 1 metric (X+Y). Type 2
external paths advertising equal type 2 metrics are
compared by looking at the distance to the forwarding
16.4.1. External path preferences
When multiple intra-AS paths are available to ASBRs/forwarding
addresses, the following rules indicate which paths are preferred.
These rules apply when the same ASBR is reachable through multiple
areas, or when trying to decide which of several AS-external-LSAs
should be preferred. In the former case the paths all terminate at
the same ASBR, while in the latter the paths terminate at separate
ASBRs/forwarding addresses. In either case, each path is represented
by a separate routing table entry as defined in Section 11.
This section only applies when RFC1583Compatibility is set to
The path preference rules, stated from highest to lowest preference,
are as follows. Note that as a result of these rules, there may still
be multiple paths of the highest preference. In this case, the path
to use must be determined based on cost, as described in Section
o Intra-area paths using non-backbone areas are always the
o Otherwise, intra-area backbone paths are preferred.
o Inter-area paths are the least preferred.
16.5. Incremental updates -- summary-LSAs
When a new summary-LSA is received, it is not necessary to
recalculate the entire routing table. Call the destination described
by the summary-LSA N (N's address is obtained by masking the LSA's
Link State ID with the network/subnet mask contained in the body of
the LSA), and let Area A be the area to which the LSA belongs. There
are then two separate cases:
Case 1: Area A is the backbone and/or the router is not an area
In this case, the following calculations must be performed.
First, if there is presently an inter-area route to the
destination N, N's routing table entry is invalidated, saving the
entry's values for later comparisons. Then the calculation in
Section 16.2 is run again for the single destination N. In this
calculation, all of Area A's summary-LSAs that describe a route to
N are examined. In addition, if the router is an area border
router attached to one or more transit areas, the calculation in
Section 16.3 must be run again for the single destination. If the
results of these calculations have changed the cost/path to an AS
boundary router (as would be the case for a Type 4 summary-LSA) or
to any forwarding addresses, all AS- external-LSAs will have to be
reexamined by rerunning the calculation in Section 16.4.
Otherwise, if N is now newly unreachable, the calculation in
Section 16.4 must be rerun for the single destination N, in case
an alternate external route to N exists.
Case 2: Area A is a transit area and the router is an area border
In this case, the following calculations must be performed.
First, if N's routing table entry presently contains one or more
inter-area paths that utilize the transit area Area A, these paths
should be removed. If this removes all paths from the routing
table entry, the entry should be invalidated. The entry's old
values should be saved for later comparisons. Next the calculation
in Section 16.3 must be run again for the single destination N. If
the results of this calculation have caused the cost to N to
increase, the complete routing table calculation must be rerun
starting with the Dijkstra algorithm specified in Section 16.1.
Otherwise, if the cost/path to an AS boundary router (as would be
the case for a Type 4 summary-LSA) or to any forwarding addresses
has changed, all AS-external-LSAs will have to be reexamined by
rerunning the calculation in Section 16.4. Otherwise, if N is now
newly unreachable, the calculation in Section 16.4 must be rerun
for the single destination N, in case an alternate external route
to N exists.
16.6. Incremental updates -- AS-external-LSAs
When a new AS-external-LSA is received, it is not necessary to
recalculate the entire routing table. Call the destination described
by the AS-external-LSA N. N's address is obtained by masking the
LSA's Link State ID with the network/subnet mask contained in the
body of the LSA. If there is already an intra- area or inter-area
route to the destination, no recalculation is necessary (internal
routes take precedence).
Otherwise, the procedure in Section 16.4 will have to be performed,
but only for those AS-external-LSAs whose destination is N. Before
this procedure is performed, the present routing table entry for N
should be invalidated.
16.7. Events generated as a result of routing table changes
Changes to routing table entries sometimes cause the OSPF area border
routers to take additional actions. These routers need to act on the
following routing table changes:
o The cost or path type of a routing table entry has changed.
If the destination described by this entry is a Network or AS
boundary router, and this is not simply a change of AS external
routes, new summary-LSAs may have to be generated (potentially one
for each attached area, including the backbone). See Section
12.4.3 for more information. If a previously advertised entry has
been deleted, or is no longer advertisable to a particular area,
the LSA must be flushed from the routing domain by setting its LS
age to MaxAge and reflooding (see Section 14.1).
o A routing table entry associated with a configured virtual
link has changed. The destination of such a routing table entry
is an area border router. The change indicates a modification to
the virtual link's cost or viability.
If the entry indicates that the area border router is newly
reachable, the corresponding virtual link is now operational. An
InterfaceUp event should be generated for the virtual link, which
will cause a virtual adjacency to begin to form (see Section
10.3). At this time the virtual link's IP interface address and
the virtual neighbor's Neighbor IP address are also calculated.
If the entry indicates that the area border router is no longer
reachable, the virtual link and its associated adjacency should be
destroyed. This means an InterfaceDown event should be generated
for the associated virtual link.
If the cost of the entry has changed, and there is a fully
established virtual adjacency, a new router-LSA for the backbone
must be originated. This in turn may cause further routing table
16.8. Equal-cost multipath
The OSPF protocol maintains multiple equal-cost routes to all
destinations. This can be seen in the steps used above to calculate
the routing table, and in the definition of the routing table
Each one of the multiple routes will be of the same type (intra-area,
inter-area, type 1 external or type 2 external), cost, and will have
the same associated area. However, each route specifies a separate
next hop and Advertising router.
There is no requirement that a router running OSPF keep track of all
possible equal-cost routes to a destination. An implementation may
choose to keep only a fixed number of routes to any given
destination. This does not affect any of the algorithms presented in
The graph's vertices represent either routers, transit networks,
or stub networks. Since routers may belong to multiple areas, it is
not possible to color the graph's vertices.
It is possible for all of a router's interfaces to be unnumbered
point-to-point links. In this case, an IP address must be assigned
to the router. This address will then be advertised in the router's
router-LSA as a host route.
Note that in these cases both interfaces, the non-virtual and the
virtual, would have the same IP address.
Note that no host route is generated for, and no IP packets can be
addressed to, interfaces to unnumbered point-to-point networks. This
is regardless of such an interface's state.
It is instructive to see what happens when the Designated Router
for the network crashes. Call the Designated Router for the network
RT1, and the Backup Designated Router RT2. If Router RT1 crashes (or
maybe its interface to the network dies), the other routers on the
network will detect RT1's absence within RouterDeadInterval seconds.
All routers may not detect this at precisely the same time; the
routers that detect RT1's absence before RT2 does will, for a time,
select RT2 to be both Designated Router and Backup Designated Router.
When RT2 detects that RT1 is gone it will move itself to Designated
Router. At this time, the remaining router having highest Router
Priority will be selected as Backup Designated Router.
On point-to-point networks, the lower level protocols indicate
whether the neighbor is up and running. Likewise, existence of the
neighbor on virtual links is indicated by the routing table
calculation. However, in both these cases, the Hello Protocol is
still used. This ensures that communication between the neighbors is
bidirectional, and that each of the neighbors has a functioning
routing protocol layer.
When the identity of the Designated Router is changing, it may be
quite common for a neighbor in this state to send the router a
Database Description packet; this means that there is some momentary
disagreement on the Designated Router's identity.
Note that it is possible for a router to resynchronize any of its
fully established adjacencies by setting the adjacency's state back
to ExStart. This will cause the other end of the adjacency to
process a SeqNumberMismatch event, and therefore to also go back to
The address space of IP networks and the address space of OSPF
Router IDs may overlap. That is, a network may have an IP address
which is identical (when considered as a 32-bit number) to some
router's Router ID.
"Discard" entries are necessary to ensure that route
summarization at area boundaries will not cause packet looping.
It is assumed that, for two different address ranges matching the
destination, one range is more specific than the other. Non-
contiguous subnet masks can be configured to violate this assumption.
Such subnet mask configurations cannot be handled by the OSPF
MaxAgeDiff is an architectural constant. It indicates the
maximum dispersion of ages, in seconds, that can occur for a single
LSA instance as it is flooded throughout the routing domain. If two
LSAs differ by more than this, they are assumed to be different
instances of the same LSA. This can occur when a router restarts and
loses track of the LSA's previous LS sequence number. See Section
13.4 for more details.
When two LSAs have different LS checksums, they are assumed to be
separate instances. This can occur when a router restarts, and loses
track of the LSA's previous LS sequence number. In the case where
the two LSAs have the same LS sequence number, it is not possible to
determine which LSA is actually newer. However, if the wrong LSA is
accepted as newer, the originating router will simply originate
another instance. See Section 13.4 for further details.
There is one instance where a lookup must be done based on
partial information. This is during the routing table calculation,
when a network-LSA must be found based solely on its Link State ID.
The lookup in this case is still well defined, since no two network-
LSAs can have the same Link State ID.
This is the way RFC 1583 specified point-to-point representation.
It has three advantages: a) it does not require allocating a subnet
to the point-to-point link, b) it tends to bias the routing so that
packets destined for the point-to-point interface will actually be
received over the interface (which is useful for diagnostic purposes)
and c) it allows network bootstrapping of a neighbor, without
requiring that the bootstrap program contain an OSPF implementation.
This is the more traditional point-to-point representation used
by protocols such as RIP.
This clause covers the case: Inter-area routes are not summarized
to the backbone. This is because inter-area routes are always
associated with the backbone area.
This clause is only invoked when a non-backbone Area A supports
transit data traffic (i.e., has TransitCapability set to TRUE). For
example, in the area configuration of Figure 6, Area 2 can support
transit traffic due to the configured virtual link between Routers
RT10 and RT11. As a result, Router RT11 need only originate a single
summary-LSA into Area 2 (having the collapsed destination N9-N11,H1),
since all of Router RT11's other eligible routes have next hops
belonging to Area 2 itself (and as such only need be advertised by
other area border routers; in this case, Routers RT10 and RT7).
By keeping more information in the routing table, it is possible
for an implementation to recalculate the shortest path tree for only
a single area. In fact, there are incremental algorithms that allow
an implementation to recalculate only a portion of a single area's
shortest path tree [Ref1]. However, these algorithms are beyond the
scope of this specification.
This is how the Link state request list is emptied, which
eventually causes the neighbor state to transition to Full. See
Section 10.9 for more details.
It should be a relatively rare occurrence for an LSA's LS age to
reach MaxAge in this fashion. Usually, the LSA will be replaced by a
more recent instance before it ages out.
Strictly speaking, because of equal-cost multipath, the algorithm
does not create a tree. We continue to use the "tree" terminology
because that is what occurs most often in the existing literature.
Note that the presence of any link back to V is sufficient; it
need not be the matching half of the link under consideration from V
to W. This is enough to ensure that, before data traffic flows
between a pair of neighboring routers, their link state databases
will be synchronized.
When the forwarding address is non-zero, it should point to a
router belonging to another Autonomous System. See Section 12.4.4
for more details.
[Ref1] McQuillan, J., I. Richer and E. Rosen, "ARPANET Routing
Algorithm Improvements", BBN Technical Report 3803, April
[Ref2] Digital Equipment Corporation, "Information processing
systems -- Data communications -- Intermediate System to
Intermediate System Intra-Domain Routing Protocol", October
[Ref3] McQuillan, J. et.al., "The New Routing Algorithm for the
ARPANET", IEEE Transactions on Communications, May 1980.
[Ref4] Perlman, R., "Fault-Tolerant Broadcast of Routing
Information", Computer Networks, December 1983.
[Ref5] Postel, J., "Internet Protocol", STD 5, RFC 791,
USC/Information Sciences Institute, September 1981.
[Ref6] McKenzie, A., "ISO Transport Protocol specification ISO DP
8073", RFC 905, ISO, April 1984.
[Ref7] Deering, S., "Host extensions for IP multicasting", STD 5,
RFC 1112, Stanford University, May 1988.
[Ref8] McCloghrie, K., and M. Rose, "Management Information Base
for network management of TCP/IP-based internets: MIB-II",
STD 17, RFC 1213, Hughes LAN Systems, Performance Systems
International, March 1991.
[Ref9] Moy, J., "OSPF Version 2", RFC 1583, Proteon, Inc., March
[Ref10] Fuller, V., T. Li, J. Yu, and K. Varadhan, "Classless
Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR): an Address Assignment and
Aggregation Strategy", RFC1519, BARRNet, cisco, MERIT,
OARnet, September 1993.
[Ref11] Reynolds, J., and J. Postel, "Assigned Numbers", STD 2, RFC
1700, USC/Information Sciences Institute, October 1994.
[Ref12] Almquist, P., "Type of Service in the Internet Protocol
Suite", RFC 1349, July 1992.
[Ref13] Leiner, B., et.al., "The DARPA Internet Protocol Suite", DDN
Protocol Handbook, April 1985.
[Ref14] Bradley, T., and C. Brown, "Inverse Address Resolution
Protocol", RFC 1293, January 1992.
[Ref15] deSouza, O., and M. Rodrigues, "Guidelines for Running OSPF
Over Frame Relay Networks", RFC 1586, March 1994.
[Ref16] Bellovin, S., "Security Problems in the TCP/IP Protocol
Suite", ACM Computer Communications Review, Volume 19,
Number 2, pp. 32-38, April 1989.
[Ref17] Rivest, R., "The MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm", RFC 1321,
[Ref18] Moy, J., "Multicast Extensions to OSPF", RFC 1584, Proteon,
Inc., March 1994.
[Ref19] Coltun, R. and V. Fuller, "The OSPF NSSA Option", RFC 1587,
RainbowBridge Communications, Stanford University, March
[Ref20] Ferguson, D., "The OSPF External Attributes LSA", work in
[Ref21] Moy, J., "Extending OSPF to Support Demand Circuits", RFC
1793, Cascade, April 1995.
[Ref22] Mogul, J. and S. Deering, "Path MTU Discovery", RFC 1191,
DECWRL, Stanford University, November 1990.
[Ref23] Rekhter, Y. and T. Li, "A Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-
4)", RFC 1771, T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corp., cisco
Systems, March 1995.
[Ref24] Hinden, R., "Internet Routing Protocol Standardization
Criteria", BBN, October 1991.
A. OSPF data formats
This appendix describes the format of OSPF protocol packets and OSPF
LSAs. The OSPF protocol runs directly over the IP network layer.
Before any data formats are described, the details of the OSPF
encapsulation are explained.
Next the OSPF Options field is described. This field describes
various capabilities that may or may not be supported by pieces of
the OSPF routing domain. The OSPF Options field is contained in OSPF
Hello packets, Database Description packets and in OSPF LSAs.
OSPF packet formats are detailed in Section A.3. A description of
OSPF LSAs appears in Section A.4.
A.1 Encapsulation of OSPF packets
OSPF runs directly over the Internet Protocol's network layer. OSPF
packets are therefore encapsulated solely by IP and local data-link
OSPF does not define a way to fragment its protocol packets, and
depends on IP fragmentation when transmitting packets larger than the
network MTU. If necessary, the length of OSPF packets can be up to
65,535 bytes (including the IP header). The OSPF packet types that
are likely to be large (Database Description Packets, Link State
Request, Link State Update, and Link State Acknowledgment packets)
can usually be split into several separate protocol packets, without
loss of functionality. This is recommended; IP fragmentation should
be avoided whenever possible. Using this reasoning, an attempt should
be made to limit the sizes of OSPF packets sent over virtual links to
576 bytes unless Path MTU Discovery is being performed (see [Ref22]).
The other important features of OSPF's IP encapsulation are:
o Use of IP multicast. Some OSPF messages are multicast, when
sent over broadcast networks. Two distinct IP multicast addresses
are used. Packets sent to these multicast addresses should never
be forwarded; they are meant to travel a single hop only. To
ensure that these packets will not travel multiple hops, their IP
TTL must be set to 1.
This multicast address has been assigned the value 220.127.116.11. All
routers running OSPF should be prepared to receive packets sent to
this address. Hello packets are always sent to this destination.
Also, certain OSPF protocol packets are sent to this address
during the flooding procedure.
This multicast address has been assigned the value 18.104.22.168. Both
the Designated Router and Backup Designated Router must be
prepared to receive packets destined to this address. Certain
OSPF protocol packets are sent to this address during the flooding
o OSPF is IP protocol number 89. This number has been registered
with the Network Information Center. IP protocol number
assignments are documented in [Ref11].
o All OSPF routing protocol packets are sent using the normal
service TOS value of binary 0000 defined in [Ref12].
o Routing protocol packets are sent with IP precedence set to
Internetwork Control. OSPF protocol packets should be given
precedence over regular IP data traffic, in both sending and
receiving. Setting the IP precedence field in the IP header to
Internetwork Control [Ref5] may help implement this objective.
A.2 The Options field
The OSPF Options field is present in OSPF Hello packets, Database
Description packets and all LSAs. The Options field enables OSPF
routers to support (or not support) optional capabilities, and to
communicate their capability level to other OSPF routers. Through
this mechanism routers of differing capabilities can be mixed within
an OSPF routing domain.
When used in Hello packets, the Options field allows a router to
reject a neighbor because of a capability mismatch. Alternatively,
when capabilities are exchanged in Database Description packets a
router can choose not to forward certain LSAs to a neighbor because
of its reduced functionality. Lastly, listing capabilities in LSAs
allows routers to forward traffic around reduced functionality
routers, by excluding them from parts of the routing table
Five bits of the OSPF Options field have been assigned, although only
one (the E-bit) is described completely by this memo. Each bit is
described briefly below. Routers should reset (i.e. clear)
unrecognized bits in the Options field when sending Hello packets or
Database Description packets and when originating LSAs. Conversely,
routers encountering unrecognized Option bits in received Hello
Packets, Database Description packets or LSAs should ignore the
capability and process the packet/LSA normally.
| * | * | DC | EA | N/P | MC | E | * |
The Options field
This bit describes the way AS-external-LSAs are flooded, as
described in Sections 3.6, 9.5, 10.8 and 12.1.2 of this memo.
This bit describes whether IP multicast datagrams are forwarded
according to the specifications in [Ref18].
This bit describes the handling of Type-7 LSAs, as specified in
This bit describes the router's willingness to receive and
forward External-Attributes-LSAs, as specified in [Ref20].
This bit describes the router's handling of demand circuits, as
specified in [Ref21].
A.3 OSPF Packet Formats
There are five distinct OSPF packet types. All OSPF packet types
begin with a standard 24 byte header. This header is described
first. Each packet type is then described in a succeeding section.
In these sections each packet's division into fields is displayed,
and then the field definitions are enumerated.
All OSPF packet types (other than the OSPF Hello packets) deal with
lists of LSAs. For example, Link State Update packets implement the
flooding of LSAs throughout the OSPF routing domain. Because of
this, OSPF protocol packets cannot be parsed unless the format of
LSAs is also understood. The format of LSAs is described in Section
The receive processing of OSPF packets is detailed in Section 8.2.
The sending of OSPF packets is explained in Section 8.1.
A.3.1 The OSPF packet header
Every OSPF packet starts with a standard 24 byte header. This header
contains all the information necessary to determine whether the
packet should be accepted for further processing. This determination
is described in Section 8.2 of the specification.
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
| Version # | Type | Packet length |
| Router ID |
| Area ID |
| Checksum | AuType |
| Authentication |
| Authentication |
The OSPF version number. This specification documents version 2
of the protocol.
The OSPF packet types are as follows. See Sections A.3.2 through
A.3.6 for details.
2 Database Description
3 Link State Request
4 Link State Update
5 Link State Acknowledgment
The length of the OSPF protocol packet in bytes. This length
includes the standard OSPF header.
The Router ID of the packet's source.
A 32 bit number identifying the area that this packet belongs
to. All OSPF packets are associated with a single area. Most
travel a single hop only. Packets travelling over a virtual
link are labelled with the backbone Area ID of 0.0.0.0.
The standard IP checksum of the entire contents of the packet,
starting with the OSPF packet header but excluding the 64-bit
authentication field. This checksum is calculated as the 16-bit
one's complement of the one's complement sum of all the 16-bit
words in the packet, excepting the authentication field. If the
packet's length is not an integral number of 16-bit words, the
packet is padded with a byte of zero before checksumming. The
checksum is considered to be part of the packet authentication
procedure; for some authentication types the checksum
calculation is omitted.
Identifies the authentication procedure to be used for the
packet. Authentication is discussed in Appendix D of the
specification. Consult Appendix D for a list of the currently
defined authentication types.
A 64-bit field for use by the authentication scheme. See
Appendix D for details.
A.3.2 The Hello packet
Hello packets are OSPF packet type 1. These packets are sent
periodically on all interfaces (including virtual links) in order to
establish and maintain neighbor relationships. In addition, Hello
Packets are multicast on those physical networks having a multicast
or broadcast capability, enabling dynamic discovery of neighboring
All routers connected to a common network must agree on certain
parameters (Network mask, HelloInterval and RouterDeadInterval).
These parameters are included in Hello packets, so that differences
can inhibit the forming of neighbor relationships. A detailed
explanation of the receive processing for Hello packets is presented
in Section 10.5. The sending of Hello packets is covered in Section
0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
| Version # | 1 | Packet length |
| Router ID |
| Area ID |
| Checksum | AuType |
| Authentication |
| Authentication |
| Network Mask |
| HelloInterval | Options | Rtr Pri |
| RouterDeadInterval |
| Designated Router |
| Backup Designated Router |
| Neighbor |
| ... |
The network mask associated with this interface. For example,
if the interface is to a class B network whose third byte is
used for subnetting, the network mask is 0xffffff00.
The optional capabilities supported by the router, as documented
in Section A.2.
The number of seconds between this router's Hello packets.
This router's Router Priority. Used in (Backup) Designated
Router election. If set to 0, the router will be ineligible to
become (Backup) Designated Router.
The number of seconds before declaring a silent router down.
The identity of the Designated Router for this network, in the
view of the sending router. The Designated Router is identified
here by its IP interface address on the network. Set to 0.0.0.0
if there is no Designated Router.
Backup Designated Router
The identity of the Backup Designated Router for this network,
in the view of the sending router. The Backup Designated Router
is identified here by its IP interface address on the network.
Set to 0.0.0.0 if there is no Backup Designated Router.
The Router IDs of each router from whom valid Hello packets have
been seen recently on the network. Recently means in the last