Open Menu Close Menu

Harvard Team Rehabs P2P as eCommerce Platform

A team of Harvard computer scientists is experimenting with using peer to peer file sharing as a model for exchanging Internet bandwidth between individual users. The researchers said they believe that P2P networking, which has become notorious for helping foster illegal downloading, can be used as a safe and legal model for electronic commerce.

The team, from Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is using a version of a Tribler, a program created by scientists at the Delft University of Technology and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, to study video file sharing.

"Successful peer to peer systems rely on designing rules that promote fair sharing of resources amongst users. Thus, they are both efficient and powerful computational and economic systems," said David Parkes, an associate professor of natural sciences at Harvard. "Peer to peer has received a bad rap, however, because of its frequent association with illegal music or software downloads."

The researchers used the program as a model for an e-commerce system because of its flexibility, speed, and reliability. "Our platform will provide fast downloads by ensuring sufficient uploads," said Johan Pouwelse, an assistant professor at Delft. For example, the more a user uploads now and the higher the quality of the content, the more they would be able to download faster later.

They see bandwidth as the first true Internet "currency" for an e-commerce system that connects users to a single global market, without any controlling company, network, or bank. "The next generation of peer to peer systems will provide an ideal marketplace not just for content, but for bandwidth in general," Pouwelse said.

Read More:

About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

comments powered by Disqus