Towards real-time video caching at edge servers: a cost-aware deep Q-learning solution

Laizhong Cui, Erchao Ni, Yipeng Zhou*, Zhi Wang, Lei Zhang, Jiangchuan Liu, Yuedong Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Given the rapid growth of user-generated videos, internet traffic has been heavily dominated by online video streaming. Caching videos on edge servers in close proximity to users has been an effective approach to reduce the backbone traffic and the request response time, as well as to improve the video quality on the user side. Video popularity, however, can be highly dynamic over time. The cost of cache replacement at edge servers, particularly that related to service interruption during replacement, is not yet well understood. This paper presents a novel lightweight video caching algorithm for edge servers, seeking to optimize the hit rate with real-time decisions and minimized cost. Inspired by recent advances in deep Q-learning, our DQN-based online video caching (DQN-OVC) makes effective use of the rich and readily available information from users and networks. We decompose the Q-value function as a product of the video value function and the action function, which significantly reduces the state space. We instantiate the action function for cost-aware caching decisions with low complexity so that the cached videos can be updated continuously and instantly with dynamic video popularity. We used video traces from Tencent, one of the largest online video providers in China, to evaluate the performance of our DQN-OVC and to compare it with state-of-the-art solutions. The results demonstrate that DQN-OVC significantly outperforms the baseline algorithms in the edge caching context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-314
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Multimedia
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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