2001
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Statistical Physics

Parasitic computing

Abstract
Reliable communication on the Internet is guaranteed by a standard set of protocols, used by all computers. Here we show that these protocols can be exploited to compute with the communication infrastructure, transforming the Internet into a distributed computer in which servers unwittingly perform computation on behalf of a remote node. In this model, which we call `parasitic computing, one machine forces target computers to solve a piece of a complex computational problem merely by engaging them in standard communication. Consequently, the target computers are unaware that they have performed computation for the bene®t of a commanding node. As experimental evidence of the principle of parasitic computing, we harness the power of several web servers across the globe, which known to them work together to solve an NP complete problem.

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