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CMU Prof Proposes Faster P2P Music, Movie Downloads

A Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist has proposed a way to speed transferring large data files, such as movies and music, with a technology that would generalize the types of files that could be moved over peer to peer networks.

David Andersen, assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, and Michael Kaminsky of Intel Research Pittsburgh have designed the system, called Similarity-Enhanced Transfer (SET). The system increases the number of potential sources for downloads. Boosting the number of sources usually translates into faster P2P downloads, Andersen said.

How much SET could speed up downloads varies based on the size and popularity of a given file. In some cases, SET might speed transfers by just 5 percent; in others, it might make downloads five times faster.

"This is a technique that I would like people to steal," Andersen said. Though he and his colleagues hope to implement SET in a service for sharing software or academic papers, they have no intention of applying it themselves to movie- or music-sharing services. "But it would make P2P transfers faster and more efficient," he added, "and developers should just take the idea and use it in their own systems."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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