Starting at the beginning of the new century, the peer-to-peer (P2P) paradigm for building distributed applications has attracted the attention of industry and media, primarily due to the enormous success of systems such Napster and Gnutella first, and Bittorent later. The multitude of projects that have been proposed based on P2P need to confront with common problems including security, reliability and routing. For these reasons, the IT community is promoting several initiatives about P2P, such as the Intel’s Peer-to-Peer Working Group (for the development of new P2P standards) and the Sun’s JXTA project (for the development of an open-source infrastructure).
Unfortunately, none of these efforts seems to be aimed at supporting the scientific investigation of the properties of P2P systems. The Anthill project was an attempt to fill this hole, by providing a framework helping researchers in the study, the design and analysis of P2P systems.
In order to pursue this goal, we have adopted the ant colony paradigm. In this agent-based approach, artificial ants of limited individual capabilities move across a network of nodes trying to solve a particular problem. While moving, they build (partial) solutions and modify the problem representation by adding collected information. The resulting system may be defined as complex adaptive: individual ants are unintelligent and have no problem solving capability; nevertheless, ant colonies manage to perform several complicated tasks.
The development of Anthill has been interrupted. Yet, the experience gained through it has been fundamental to start a new project, called BISON, that has been founded by the European Community.
[ICDCS02] Ozalp Babaoglu, Hein Meling, and Alberto Montresor. Anthill: A framework for the development of agent-based peer-to-peer systems. In Proc. of the 22th Int. Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS’02). IEEE, Vienna, Austria, July 2002. [PDF], [Bibtex].
[LNCS02] Alberto Montresor, Hein Meling, and Ozalp Babaoglu. Towards adaptive, resilient and self-organizing peer-to-peer systems. In Web Engineering and Peer-to-Peer, number 2376 in Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 300–305. Springer-Verlag, 2002. [PDF], [Bibtex].
[AP2PC03] Alberto Montresor, Hein Meling, and Ozalp Baboglu. Messor: Load-balancing through a swarm of autonomous agents. In Proc. of the 1st Workshop on Agent and Peer-to-Peer Systems (AP2PC’02), number 2530 in Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, pages 125–137. Springer-Verlag, Bologna, Italy, July 2003. [PDF], [Bibtex].