Luis F. G. Sarmenta
MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
Computer Architecture Group
545 Technology Square
Cambridge, MA 02139
(postscript file, 309KB)
This paper presents and discusses the idea of Web-based volunteer computing, which allows people to cooperate in solving a large parallel problem by using standard Web browsers to volunteer their computers' processing power. Because volunteering requires no prior human contact and very little technical knowledge, it becomes very easy to build very large volunteer computing networks. At its full potential, volunteer computing can make it possible to build world-wide massively parallel computing networks more powerful than any supercomputer. Even on a smaller, more practical scale, volunteer computing can be used within companies or institutions to provide supercomputer-like facilities by harnessing the computing power of existing workstations. Many interesting variations are possible, including networks of information appliances (NOIAs), paid volunteer systems, and barter trade of compute cycles.
In this paper, we discuss these possibilities, and identify several issues that will need to be addressed in order to successfully implement them. We also present an overview of the current work being done in the Bayanihan volunteer computing project.