Skip to main content
Log in

Improving the Productivity of Volunteer Computing by Using the Most Effective Task Retrieval Policies

  • Published:
Journal of Grid Computing Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Volunteer computing projects have been used to make significant advances in knowledge since the 1990s. These projects use idle CPU cycles donated by people to solve computationally intensive problems in medicine, the sciences and other disciplines. It is important to use the donated cycles as efficiently as possible because participation in volunteer computing is low and the number of volunteer computing projects keeps increasing. Task retrieval policies, policies describing when a volunteered computer requests additional work from a server, can have an effect on the number of wasted CPU cycles and consequently, the number of tasks completed by clients. We present the results of simulating different task retrieval policies for clients under realistic conditions, including clients running on computers with one single-core CPU, clients running on computers with multi-core CPUs, and clients running on computers that are put into a power save mode by environmentally conscious owners.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Anderson, D.P.: BOINC: a system for public resource computing and storage. In: 5th IEEE/ACM International Workshop on Grid Computing, Pittsburgh, USA, 8 November 2004

  2. Anderson, D.P., Cobb, J., Korpela, E., Lebofsky, M., Wertheimer, D.: SETI@home: an experiment in public-resource computing. Commun. ACM 45(11), 56–61 (2002)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Folding@Home: Folding@Home distributed computing. Accessed 26 October 2006

  4. GIMPS: mersenne prime search. Accessed 13 July 2005

  5. Bohannon, J.: Grassroots supercomputing. Science 308, 810–813 (2005)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Toth, D., Finkel, D.: File-based tasks for public-resource computing. In: Proceedings of The 17th IASTED International Conference on Parallel and Distributed Computing and Systems - PDCS 2005, pp. 398–403, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 14–16 November 2005

  7. Toth, D., Finkel, D.: Increasing the amount of work completed by volunteer computing projects with task distribution policies. In: Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Desktop Grids and Volunteer Computing Systems - PCGrid 2008, Miami, Florida, USA, 18 April 2008

  8. Toth, D.: The impact of multi-core architectures on task retrieval policies for volunteer computing. In: Proceedings of the 20th IASTED International Conference on Parallel and Distributed Computing and Systems - PDCS 2008, pp. 330–335, Orlando, Florida, USA, 16–18 November 2008

  9. Toth, D.: Improving the productivity of volunteer computing. Ph.D. Dissertation (2008)

  10. Toth, D., Finkel, D.: Characterizing resource availability for volunteer computing and its impact on task distribution methods. In: Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS International Conference on Software Engineering, Parallel and Distributed Systems - SEPADS 2007, Corfu, Greece, 16–19 February 2007

  11. Mutka, M.H., Livny, M.: Profiling workstations’ available capacity for remote execution. In: Proc.12th IFIP WG 7.3 International Symposium on Computer Performance Modeling, Measurement and Evaluation, pp. 529–544. Brussels, Belgium (1987)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Acharya, A., Edjlali, G., Saltz, J.: The utility of exploiting idle workstations for parallel computation. In: Proceedings of SIGMETRICS’97, pp. 225–234. Seattle, Washington, USA (1997)

  13. Kondo, D., Taufer, M., Brooks, C. Casanova, H., Chien, A.: Characterizing and evaluating desktop grids: an empirical study. In: Proceedings of the International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS’04) (2004)

  14. Kondo, D., Andrzejak, A., Anderson, D.P.: On correlated availability in internet-distributed systems. In: Proceedings of the 9th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Grid Computing (Grid 2008), Tsukuba, Japan, 29 Sept – 1 Oct 2008

  15. BOINC: Choosing BOINC projects. Accessed 26 October 2006

  16. Preferences. Accessed 24 February 2005

  17. Work distribution. Accessed 23 February 2005

  18. GRID.ORG - help: frequently asked questions. Accessed 1 April 2005

  19. Young, J.: A first order approximation to the optimum checkpoint interval. Commun. ACM 17, 530–531 (1974)

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  20. SETI@home beta - some questions. Accessed 8 February 2007

  21. Result deadline - unofficial BOINC Wiki. Accessed 9 February 2007

  22. Posts by Keck_Komputers. Accessed 9 February 2007

  23. Folding@Home News. Accessed 9 February 2007

  24. Folding@Home configuration FAQ. Accessed 9 February 2007

  25. Frequently asked questions (FAQ). Accessed 9 February 2007

  26. WorkUnits - FaHWiki. Accessed 8 February 2007

  27. Workunit size vs. processor. Accessed 8 February 2007

  28. Einstein@Home FAQ. Accessed 8 February 2007

  29. QMC@Home - wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed 8 February 2007

  30. Report deadline too short. Accessed 8 February 2007

  31. Get wu’s with deadline less than 5 days, why?? http : // forum_thread.php? id=1619. Accessed 9 February 2007

  32. forums - view topic - READ ME -=- work units (WU). Accessed 8 February 2007

  33. Rosetta@Home FAQ (work in progress). Accessed 23 October 2006

  34. ClimatePrediction.Net gateway. Accessed 8 February 2007

  35. BOINCSIMAP :: view topic - Wus. Accessed 8 February 2007

  36. The Riesel Sieve project :: view topic - length of WU. Accessed 9 February 2007

  37. PerlBOINC :: RieselSieve. Accessed 8 February 2007

  38. The Riesel Sieve project :: view topic - checkpointing? Accessed 9 February 2007

  39. World community Grid - view thread - run times for work units - what to expect. Accessed 8 February 2007

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to David Toth.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Toth, D., Finkel, D. Improving the Productivity of Volunteer Computing by Using the Most Effective Task Retrieval Policies. J Grid Computing 7, 519 (2009).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: