Davide Vega D'Aurelio

Incentives for sharing heterogeneous resources in distributed systems: a participatory approach

Contributory and volunteer computing ecosystems built around a community of participants need, like any other common-pool resources, an adaptive governance mechanism to guarantee the sustainability of the ecosystem. Reciprocity incentive mechanisms based on economic principles have been proved efficient solutions to regulate the resource sharing and allocation in large computing architectures, guaranteeing a direct retribution for each individual contribution even in presence of misbehaving users. However, while these mechanisms preserve the macro-equilibrium of the computational shared resources (e.g., CPU or memory), participants with fewer resources face problems competing for the attention of other members with more resources to cooperate with; making it difficult to apply such principles in practice. Additionally, active members of the community contributing in other aspects (e.g., doing administrative tasks or developing software) are not con- templated in traditional schemes although their time and effort are also part of the common-pool resource and hence, should be retributed somehow. The aim of this thesis is to revisit some of the architectural aspects of current systems and propose a framework to govern contributory and volunteer computing ecosystems in a fairer way based on principles of participatory economics. Our main contributions in this thesis are threefold. First, we examine the mechanisms ruling the resource sharing and propose a new reciprocal incentive mechanism that measures participants’ effort on sharing resources instead of their direct contribution, so it increases the collaboration opportunities of users with fewer resources in heterogeneous scenarios. Second, we propose a regulation mechanism for allocating new computational devices and distribute new resources within them, with the objective of increasing their impact in the common-pool resources when the demand of re- sources is supplied by the community. Third, we propose new methods to detect and analyze the social positions and roles of the community members, enabling the governance mechanism to be adapted taking into account members’ effort on several tasks not considered otherwise. The main contributions of this thesis conform a single framework that has been tested experimentally, using simulations, in a resource-sharing environment with non-strategic participants. Potentially, the mechanisms developed in this thesis will open new opportunities to apply political-economic and social ideas to the new generation of volunteer, contributory or grid computing systems; as well as other common-pool resources scenarios.