Revisiting Social Welfare in P2P

An important research paper from the p2p team at T.U. Delft:

Report: Revisiting Social Welfare in P2P. Rameez Rahman, Michel Meulpolder, David Hales, Johan Pouwelse, Henk Sips. Delft University of Technology, Parallel and Distributed Systems Report Series

More info via [email protected]


“Extensive work has been done on studying freeriding and incentivizing cooperation in peer-to-peer (P2P) systems in general and BitTorrent in particular. We argue for incentives from the point of view of the political economy of P2P networks. Political economists, unlike mainstream economists, strive to situate the study of economics in the broader realities of human society. We invest our efforts in studying incentivizing cooperation in P2P systems by underpinning our analysis on the disparity in Internet bandwidth between P2P users. Consequently, we come up with a new defnition of fairness in P2P systems, one that recognizes that there are different classes of P2P users and seeks to be equitable to those who are less resourceful. We make the following contributions: 1) We argue that the works done on fairness in BitTorrent are, by our defnition, unfair, 2) We propose that the basic goal of most works on incentives in P2P is limited because the welfare achieved by the proposed systems (`Pareto optimality’-`effcient outcomes’) is not `social welfare’ and 3) We advocate that using principles from an alternate economic vision, Participatory Economics, could lead to systems which are fair and ensure maximization of the social welfare, while being effcient at the same time.”

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