How Routing Algorithms Work

Hierarchical Routing

Network graph and A's routing table Network graph and A's routing table
Network graph and A's routing table

As you see, in both LS and DV algorithms, every router has to save some information about other routers. When the network size grows, the number of routers in the network increases. Consequently, the size of routing tables increases, as well, and routers can't handle network traffic as efficiently. We use hierarchical routing to overcome this problem. Let's examine this subject with an example:

We use DV algorithms to find best routes between nodes. In the situation depicted below, every node of the network has to save a routing table with 17 records. Here is a typical graph and routing table for A:

In hierarchical routing, routers are classified in groups known as regions. Each router has only the information about the routers in its own region and has no information about routers in other regions. So routers just save one record in their table for every other region. In this example, we have classified our network into five regions (see below).

If A wants to send packets to any router in region 2 (D, E, F or G), it sends them to B, and so on. As you can see, in this type of routing, the tables can be summarized, so network efficiency improves. The above example shows two-level hierarchical routing. We can also use three- or four-level hierarchical routing.


In three-level hierarchical routing, the network is classified into a number of clusters. Each cluster is made up of a number of regions, and each region contains a number or routers. Hierarchical routing is widely used in Internet routing and makes use of several routing protocols.

For more information on routing and related topics, check out the links below.

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About the Author

Roozbeh Razavi is a student of electronic engineering at K.N.T University of Technology. He is also a translator of the book "Networking Essentials Plus," by Microsoft Corporation. His studies have focused on areas of TCP/IP, routing and network security.