Friday, October 01, 2010

The Small World of File Sharing

The IEEE TPDS has recently published a preprint of an interesting piece of work that I had the pleasure to collaborate with.

Adriana Iamnitchi, Matei Ripeanu, Elizeu Santos-Neto, Ian Foster, "The Small World of File Sharing," IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, 28 Sept. 2010. IEEE computer Society Digital Library. IEEE Computer Society.


Web caches, content distribution networks, peer-to-peer file sharing networks, distributed file systems, and data grids all have in common that they involve a community of users who use shared data. In each case, overall system performance can be improved significantly by first identifying and then exploiting the structure of community's data access patterns. We propose a novel perspective for analyzing data access workloads that considers the implicit relationships that form among users based on the data they access. We propose a new structure —the interest-sharing graph— that captures common user interests in data and justify its utility with studies on four data-sharing systems: a high-energy physics collaboration, the Web, the Kazaa peer-to-peer network, and a BitTorrent file-sharing community. We find small-world patterns in the interest-sharing graphs of all four communities. We investigate analytically and experimentally some of the potential causes that lead to this pattern and conclude that user preferences play a major role. The significance of small-world patterns is twofold: it provides a rigorous support to intuition and it suggests the potential to exploit these naturally emerging patterns. As a proof of concept, we design and evaluate an information dissemination system that exploits the small-world interest-sharing graphs by building an interest-aware network overlay. We show that this approach leads to improved information dissemination performance.

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