MIT Researchers Make Web Pages Load 34% Faster With One Very Complicated Trick

MIT Researchers Make Web Pages Load 34% Faster With One Very Complicated Trick
Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

Browsing the web might soon be as fast as you've always thought it should be.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new way of displaying web content proven to speed up browsing by over one-third. The framework, which they named Polaris, achieves such fast load times by streamlining the way a web browser handles "dependencies" (such as images loaded by JavaScript) rather than existing methods that emphasize compressing data sent to users, according to a statement on the university's website.

Instead of individually fetching and evaluating the dependencies for everything that might be loaded on a page, Polaris tracks the way objects on a webpage interact with one another and creates a "dependency graph" that allows the browser to assemble the content more quickly, the statement said. So while it won't allow you to stream HD video any faster, it should load all the components of a YouTube page much more quickly.

Read more: This Interactive Shows How Much We Lag Behind the World in Internet Speed

Even faster than this? Even faster than this.
Source: 
Giphy

In the statement, Harvard professor and project contributor James Mickens compared the way Polaris functions to a traveler who plans to visit multiple cities, but does not know in which order.

"For a web browser, loading all of a page's objects is like visiting all of the cities," he explained. "Polaris effectively gives you a list of all the cities before your trip actually begins. It's what allows the browser to load a web page more quickly."

In a test of 200 websites including ESPN, the New York Times and Weather.com, Polaris decreased page loading times by an average of 34%, the statement said.

Page load times have an immediate effect on not just the ease of browsing the web, but the profitability of e-commerce sites like Amazon and whether or not news sites can compete on mobile. But advances in speed often fail to keep up with the increasing complexity of modern web pages.

In January, Google announced it was integrating a compression method named Brotli into its Chrome browser, boasting the new tool could lower the amount of data needed to load a webpage by an additional 26%.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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