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Anthill: A Framework for the Design and Analysis of Peer-To-Peer Systems

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Anthill: a Framework for the Design and Analysis of Peer-to-Peer Systems

This is a paper written by Montresor in the year 2000. The paper gives a new approach for creating P2P applications. The approach is referred to as Anthill because it is compared to ant colonies. It proceeds to propose a framework that supports the study and development of new protocols regarding the P2P approach. Montresor (2000) focuses on the aspect of the presence of common issues such as routing and security that can be applied to P2P project, regardless of how the conventional algorithm techniques of resolving these issues are considered inappropriate. The paper, therefore, proposes Anthill as a framework that supports researchers in designing and analyzing the new P2P algorithms.

Montresor builds the Anthill project upon the similarities between social ant’s colonies and the P2P systems. Anthil provides a framework for evaluating, based on the application of ant algorithms in the nests with simulated networks to assist researchers in the analysis and evaluation of the behavior exhibited by “ants”. The infrastructure of the Anthill, according to the paper, is made up of various nests which are simply P2P applications run by users in the machines. Every nest in the peer entity shares its storage and computational resources. The request originating from the local users are handled by the nests through the generation of ant(s). Independent agents move across the nests in the attempt of satisfying the request.

 In the paper, Montresor proceeds to discuss the concept of ant algorithm, which is centered on the observed behavior of ants and he also proposes a framework that can be used for evaluation where the behavior of a certain ant implementation can be assessed and simulated. Up to this far, part of the work has been achieved. For instance, the set of interfaces that represent the basic elements of the document storages, infrastructure, gateways, and ant managers have been defined. Despite the good work in Anthill project, it is in its early phases and therefore some more work is needed to implement it fully.

In addition, Montresor asserts that the traditional techniques for designing distributed applications are not adequate to deal with the dynamism and scale that characterize the contemporary P2P systems. For instance, particular file sharing applications depend on flooding-style communication, an aspect that severely limits their scalability. He notes that the tuning or configuration of other systems needs manual intervention whenever there is a change of environment. He argues that there is dire need for a paradigm shift in the P2P application development that comprises of resilience, self-organization, and adaptation as the basic concerns.

The paper suggests that the complex adaptive systems that are mostly used in the explanation of the behavior of certain social and biological systems can be used as the basis of a programming model for the P2P applications. It adds that, in the framework of the complex adaptive systems, there is a large amount of somehow simple independent computing agents or units. Normally, the CAS exhibits an emergent behavior. When the behavior of the agents is taken individually, it is easy to comprehend, while the behavior of the entire system cannot be understood through a simple explanation. In simple words, despite the simplicity of the interactions between the agents, it can develop more and richer patterns compared to those generated by individual agents studied singly. Good examples of complex adaptive system include social insect colonies, living ecosystems, and multicellular organisms.

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