MIT develops web page boosting tool which loads 34% faster than other existing systems
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in CambridgeGetty Images

MIT researchers have developed a new system called Polaris, which loads web pages 34% faster than prevalent traditional systems. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have explored a new technique of data processing that allows for overlapping of a page's objects, thereby reducing the time to load a page.

Slow loading web pages are a common problem, despite current technological advancements in network speeds. Research on optimising web page loading has generally focused on data compression. However, scientists at MIT have come up with an innovative approach to solve the problem.

"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. "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."

Instead of focusing on data compression, which has been the general approach so far in achieving faster web page loading speeds, MIT researchers focus on mapping the dependencies or connections between the various objects on a page. This in turn helps analyse the most efficient route for a browser, to help speed up the page loading process.

"For a Web browser, loading all of a page's objects is like visiting all of the cities," said Harvard professor James Mickens, who began working with the MIT team during his stint as a visiting professor. "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."

The MIT team says that while tech giants like Google and Amazon have focused on increasing loading speeds through data compression, Polaris' unique approach allows it to work well with more complex websites, especially mobile websites, which tend to experience more delays in page loading than traditional, wired networks.

Polaris has been tested across a range of network conditions on 200 of the most globally popular websites, which includes NYT.com (New York Times), ESPN.com and Weather.com.