MIT, Harvard Creates System to Load Web Pages Faster

It's called Polaris.

Photo by Shutterstock

Photo by Shutterstock

Waiting around for a web page to load might become a thing of the past.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Harvard University have created a system that minimizes load times by 34 percent. The project, named Polaris, determines how to consolidate downloading objects on a page so that the overall page needs less time to load.

PhD student Ravi Netraval, who was the first author on the paper about Polaris, which will be presented at this week’s USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, explained to MIT News how the system cuts loading times.

“It can take up to 100 milliseconds each time a browser has to cross a mobile network to fetch a piece of data,” Netravali, said. “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.”

Co-authored by MIT graduate student Ameesh Goyal, MIT professor Hari Balakrishnan, and Harvard professor James Mickens, the paper includes analyses on 200 of the world’s most popular websites, ranging from to

“For a Web browser, loading all of a page’s objects is like visiting all of the cities,” Mickens told MIT News. “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.”