Volunteer computing, also known as public-resource computing, is a form of distributed computing that relies on members of the public donating the processing power, Internet connection, and storage capabilities of their home computers. Projects that utilize this mode of distributed computation can potentially access millions of Internet-attached central processing units (CPUs) that provide PFLOPS (thousands of trillions of floating-point operations per second) of processing power. In addition, these projects can access the talents of the volunteers themselves. Projects span a wide variety of domains including astronomy, biochemistry, climatology, physics, and mathematics. This review provides an introduction to volunteer computing and some of the difficulties involved in its implementation. I describe the dominant infrastructure for volunteer computing in some depth and provide descriptions of a small number of projects as an illustration of the variety of projects that can be undertaken.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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