Peer-to-Peer (P2P) systems rely on direct system-to-system connections without a central infrastructure or server system facilitating the transmission of data or resources. P2P systems are utilized in situations where it is ideal to distribute loads across many users. In the case of BitTorrent (a type of distributed file sharing system), files are not stored on a central server, but instead are shared piece-by-piece in a distributed network composed of many users. This makes it easy to get popular files quickly and it protects the network from being shut down by outside authorities.
Other examples of P2P include distributed computation projects, like SETI@Home, where thousands of computers share the task of crunching large problems or data sets. The distributed network essentially becomes a super computer by the sum of its computational power.
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 05/15/13