Last week the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Hurwicz, Maskin and Myerson for laying the foundations of the mechanism design theory. Interestingly, a practical implementation of this theory being worked on by P2P researchers. They believe that the principles from the mechanism design theory can be used to motivate people to share.
TorrentFreak spoke to Dr. Ir. Johan Pouwelse, researcher on P2P technology at Delft University of Technology, who is currently working with the Harvard mechanism design group. He told us: “We use the Nobel prize winning theory as a recipe for improving BitTorrent.”
A lot of people probably wonder how an economical theory can improve the performance of a BitTorrent client, Pouwelse explains: “A structured scientific advancement of P2P file sharing was really lacking. With Mechanism Design we can go beyond the current trial-and-error methodology. We are working on a mechanism design based solution for all 9 elementary actions in P2P by using a distributed reputation system and mechanism that does not degrade to a single shot prisoners dilemma, such as BitTorrent tit-fot-tat”
What Pouwelse is basically saying is that the mechanism design theory will be used to improve download speed and to make sure that content will be available for the long run, even when it’s not really popular. This is especially useful in BitTorrent streaming solutions where the incentive to keep sharing is relatively low.
The Nobel-powered BitTorrent/P2P client supports both regular .torrent downloads, but can also be used to stream videos from YouTube and Liveleak. As we reported earlier, the client also enhances the standard tit-for-tat BitTorrent algorithms with a so called give-to-get algorithm where bandwidth is used as a currency.
It is good to see that – unlike what others claim – p2p innovation is still alive and kicking, even in the land of the free and the home of the RIAA/MPAA.