A scalable simulator for evaluating the performance of in-network caches in Information Centric Networking (ICN)
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Icarus ICN caching simulator

Icarus is a Python-based discrete-event simulator for evaluating caching performance in Information Centric Networks (ICN).

Icarus is not bound to any specific ICN architecture. Its design allows users to implement and evalute new caching policies or caching and routing strategy with few lines of code.

This document explains how to configure and run the simulator.

Download and installation


Before using the simulator, you need to install all required dependencies.

Ubuntu 13.10+

If you use Ubuntu (version 13.10+) you can run the script ubuntusetup.sh located in the scripts folder which will take of installing all the dependencies. To run it, executes the following commands

$ sh scripts/ubuntusetup.sh

The script, after being launched, will ask you for superuser password.

Finally, it is advisable to add Icarus path to the PYTHONPATH environment variable. This makes it possible to launch Icarus from outside the Icarus root directory or call Icarus APIs from other programs:


Note however that setting the PYTHONPATH this way does not persist across reboots. To make it persist you should add the export instruction to a script that your machine executes at boot or login time, e.g. .bashrc (if you use Bash).

Other operating systems

If you have other operating systems, you can install all dependencies manually.

Icarus dependencies are:

  • Python interpreter (2.7.x): you can either download it from the Python website or, possibly, from the package manager of your operating system.
  • The following Python packages:
    • numpy (version 1.6 onwards)
    • scipy (version 0.12 onwards)
    • matplotlib (version 1.2 onwards)
    • networkx (version 1.6 onwards)
    • fnss (version 0.5.1 onwards)

All these packages can be installed using either easy_install or pip utilities.

If you use pip run:

$ pip install numpy scipy matplotlib networkx fnss

If you use easy_install run:

$ easy_install numpy scipy matplotlib networkx fnss

You may need to run pip or easy_install as superuser. The installation of these packages, especially numpy and scipy may also require to install additional libraries.

Virtual machine

You can also run Icarus within a virtual machine. This repository contains scripts and documentation to set up a virtual machine with Icarus and all its dependencies.


You can download a stable release in a zip or tar.gz format using the links below.

Latest version:

Older versions:

You can also get the development branch from the Github repository using Git. Just open a shell, cd to the directory where you want to download the simulator and type:

$ git clone https://github.com/icarus-sim/icarus.git


Run simulations

To use Icarus with the currently implemented topologies and models of caching policies and strategies you need to do the following.

First, create a configuration file with all the desired parameters of your simulation. You can modify the file config.py, which is a well documented example configuration. You can even use the configuration file as it is just to get started. Alternatively, have a look at the examples folder which contains examples of configuration files for various use cases.

Second, run Icarus by running the script icarus.py using the following syntax

$ python icarus.py --results RESULTS_FILE CONF_FILE


  • RESULTS_FILE is the pickle file in which results will be saved,
  • CONF_FILE is the configuration file

Example usage could be:

$ python icarus.py --results results.pickle config.py

After saveing the results in pickle format you can extract them in a human readable format using the printresults.py script from the scripts folder. Example usage could be:

$ python scripts/printresults.py results.pickle > results.txt

Icarus also provides a set of helper functions for plotting results. Have a look at the examples folder for plot examples.

By executing the steps illustrated above it is possible to run simulations using the topologies, cache policies, strategies and result collectors readily available on Icarus. Icarus makes it easy to implement new models to use in simulations.

To implement new models, please refer to the description of the simulator provided in this paper:

L.Saino, I. Psaras and G. Pavlou, Icarus: a Caching Simulator for Information Centric Networking (ICN), in Proc. of SIMUTOOLS'14, Lisbon, Portugal, March 2014. [PDF], [Slides], [BibTex]

Otherwise, please browse the source code. It is very well documented and easy to understand.

Modelling tools

Icarus provides utilities for modelling the performance of caches and work with traffic traces. The code is included in the icarus.tools package. These tools are described in detail in this paper.

Run tests

To run the unit test cases you can use the test.py script located in the directory of this README file.

$ python test.py

To run the test you need to have the Python nose package. If you installed all dependencies using the Ubuntu script, then you already have it installed. Otherwise you may need to install it using either pip or easy_install.

$ pip install nose


$ easy_install nose

Build documentation from source

To build the documentation you can you the Makefile provided in the doc folder. This script provides targets for building documentation in a number of formats. For example, to build HTML documentation, execute the following commands:

$ cd doc
$ make html

The built documentation will be put in the doc/build folder. The compiled HTML documentation is also available on the Icarus website

To build the documentation you need Sphinx. If you installed all dependencies using the Ubuntu script, then you already have it installed. Otherwise you may need to install it using either pip or easy_install.

$ pip install sphinx


$ easy_install sphinx


If you use Icarus for your paper, please refer to the following publication:

   author = {Saino, Lorenzo and Psaras, Ioannis and Pavlou, George},
   title = {Icarus: a Caching Simulator for Information Centric Networking (ICN)},
   booktitle = {Proceedings of the 7th International ICST Conference on Simulation Tools and Techniques},
   series = {SIMUTOOLS '14},
   year = {2014},
   location = {Lisbon, Portugal},
   numpages = {10},
   publisher = {ICST},
   address = {ICST, Brussels, Belgium, Belgium},


If you desire further information about Icarus, you can find it in the following places:

  • In this paper, which describes the overall architecture of the Icarus simulator, the motivations for its design, the models implemented and shows some snippets of codes on how to use the modelling tools.
  • In the API reference, which documents all packages, modules, classes, methods and functions included in the Icarus simulator.
  • In the source code, which is well organized and throughly documented.

Reproduce results of previous papers

Hash-routing schemes, ACM SIGCOMM ICN '13

The Icarus simulator can be used to reproduce the results and plot the graphs presented in the paper:

L.Saino, I. Psaras and G. Pavlou, Hash-routing Schemes for Information Centric Networking, in Proc. of the 3rd ACM SIGCOMM workshop on Information Centric Networking (ICN'13), Hong Kong, China, August 2013. [PDF], [BibTex]

To do so, refer to the instructions reported in the icarus-sim/hashrouting-icn13-results repository.


Icarus is licensed under the terms of the GNU GPLv2 license.


For further information about the Icarus simulator, please contact Lorenzo Saino


This work received funding from the UK EPSRC, under grant agreement no. EP/K019589/1 (COMIT project), the EU-Japan initiative, under EU FP7 grant agreement no. 608518 and NICT contract no. 167 (GreenICN project) and from the EU FP7 program, under grant agreements 318488 (Flamingo Network of Excellence project).