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BitTorrent has emerged as a very popular peer-to-peer file sharing system, which uses an embedded set of incentive mechanisms to encourage contribution and prevent free-riding. However, BitTorrent's ability to prevent free-riding needs further study. In this paper, we present a fluid model with two different classes of peers to capture the effect of free-riding on BitTorrent-like systems. With the model, we find that BitTorrent's incentive mechanism is successful in preventing free-riding in a system without seeds but may not succeed in producing a disincentive for free-riding in a system with a high number of seeds. The reason for this is that BitTorrent does not employ any effective mechanisms for seeds to effectively guard against free-riding. Therefore, we propose a seed bandwidth allocation strategy for the BitTorrent system to reduce the effect of seeds on free-riding. Finally, simulation results are given that validate what we have found in our analysis and demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed strategy.
Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:19 , Issue: 7 )
Date of Publication: July 2008