Market Managed Peer-to-Peer Services project is maximising the Internet's hidden resources

London 04 November 2004Research has shown that many Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications function on the altruistic contributions of a small minority of peers, with the rest "free riding". The IST programme-funded Market Managed Peer-to-Peer Services (MMAPPS) project's innovative system encourages peers to contribute without endangering the community.

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The standard suggestion has been to use micro-payments for transactions, however, such payment schemes can often damage the collaborative, community-based structure of P2P. The IST programme-funded MMAPPS project developed a generic, Java-based toolkit that provides a range of incentive schemes suitable for stimulating users to contribute and can be applied to a wide range of P2P applications.

P2P computing offers huge potential for maximising the hidden resources of the Internet. Such resources include under utilised personal computers, the vast range of users' knowledge and experience, and their rich collections of content. When combined with mobile, high-bandwidth access, these untapped resources can be used to provide a wide range of services.

The MMAPPS research focused on innovative non-payment based accounting schemes such as ratings, where individual members of a particular community receive a score based upon their contribution. This rating then affects how other members provide services to that individual.

"We came to the conclusion that non-price based constraints are the most appropriate form of incentive scheme for most P2P systems", explained project technical director Ben Strulo, Networks Research Centre, BT Group. "For example, locally applied rules that related the number of service requests made by a peer to the number of services provisions it makes can lead to highly efficient and sustainable systems."

In addition to the toolkit, project partners developed a number of innovative P2P-based applications during the trials, which involved:

  • a semi-automated selection of telemedicine providers in which members of remote communities received rapid diagnosis from a virtual team of health professionals (RadCITA).
  • The peering of WLAN domains in which local WLAN administrators enabled connectivity to roaming nodes in exchange for future connectivity on their local WLAN network (P2PWNC).
  • a Restaurant Recommendation Service in which end-users exchanged restaurant reviews.

The initial set of application developer trials showed the architecture to be sound. Two of the applications - P2PWNC and RadCITA - will continue to be developed by individual members of the consortium and may be commercially exploited.

"The MMAPPS approach may also be adopted and promoted by bodies with well-established development communities such as the Global Grid Forum, into which our Peer-to-Peer Working Group was absorbed", explained Ben Strulo. "It could also be adopted by JXTA, a former research project by Sun Microsystems that developed open, generalised P2P protocols that allow any connected device on the network to communicate and collaborate."

More information is available by contacting Ben Strulo, Networks Research Centre, BT Group, United Kingdom, or when visiting the MMAPPS project Web site. This article was reprinted from the IST results Web site.


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