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Parallel Tree Search in Volunteer Computing: a Case Study


While volunteer computing, as a restricted model of parallel computing, has proved itself to be a successful paradigm of scientific computing with excellent benefit on cost efficiency and public outreach, many problems it solves are intrinsically highly parallel. However, many efficient algorithms, including backtracking search, take the form of a tree search on an extremely uneven tree that cannot be easily parallelized efficiently in the volunteer computing paradigm. We explore in this article how to perform such searches efficiently on volunteer computing projects. We propose a parallel tree search scheme, and we describe two examples of its real-world implementation, Harmonious Tree and Odd Weird Search, both carried out at the volunteer computing project yoyo@home. To confirm the observed efficiency of our scheme, we perform a mathematical analysis, which proves that, under reasonable assumption that agrees with experimental observation, our scheme is only a constant multiplicative factor away from perfect parallelism. Details on improving the overall performance are also discussed.


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Open access funding provided by Graz University of Technology. The first author was partially supported by IRIF (previously LIAFA) of Université Paris Diderot. Both authors thank Prof. David Anderson, Prof. Anne Benoit, Linxiao Chen and the anonymous referees for their useful advises. We also thank the volunteers in yoyo@home that contributed to Harmonious Trees and Odd Weird Search.

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Correspondence to Wenjie Fang.

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Fang, W., Beckert, U. Parallel Tree Search in Volunteer Computing: a Case Study. J Grid Computing 16, 647–662 (2018).

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  • Volunteer computing
  • Parallel tree search
  • Power law
  • Performance
  • Implementation