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Recently Completed Distributed Computing Projects

Many of the links on this page may no longer work. They are kept here for historical purposes.

Project InformationCategoryCompletion DateProject DurationTotal Number of Participants / Computers
Help Make Love Not Spam attempted to force known spam websites out of business. The project, run by Lycos Europe, overloaded known spam sites with fake web page requests in an attempt to maximize the spammers' bandwidth costs (without actually shutting them down). It also encouraged visitors to recommend spam sites to attack. The project ended after some of the sites it attacked reportedly redirected the attack traffic back to the project site and almost shut it down, and after it created a lot of controversy over the legality of the project's actions.

The project provided a Windows and Mac OSX screensaver client which sent fake requests to spam sites targeted by the project. The site also had a button which a visitor could press to send a fake request to one of the spam sites.

Internet December 5, 2004 2 weeks unknown/unknown
World Community Grid grid.org The Smallpox project, a collaboration among grid.org, "Accelrys, Evotec OAI, IBM, Oxford University, ... and numerous scientific researchers led by Dr. Grant McFadden and Dr. Stewart Shuman," screened potential drug molecules to help find a cure for Smallpox. Phase 1 of the project was completed on September 30, 2003: that phase screened "approximately 35 million molecules against a series of protein targets related to Smallpox." Results from phase 1 were submitted to the United States Department of Defense on Septemeber 30, 2003 (see news about this). The project identified 44 strong treatment candidates, which were given to the U.S. Department of Defense for further evaluation. "Based on the success of the Smallpox study, World Community Grid was created with the goal of creating a technical environment where other humanitarian research could be processed."

Join a discussion forum about World Community Grid's projects.

Join a discussion forum about grid.org's projects.

Life Sciences November 4, 2004 1 year, 9 months unknown/unknown
The Lucas Project attempted "to complete the factorization tables with Fibonacci and Lucas numbers which are maintained by Blair Kelly ... focusing only on composites of Lucas numbers (composites are the remains left over when a number is successfully divided by a prime number and the remaining is not prime)." The project hoped to find all prime numbers that make up each Lucas number. It tried "to find prime factors up to 55 digits, the ... upper limit of the GMP-ECM program."

The project appears to have been abandoned sometime in 2004.

Mathematics 2004 at least 1 year unknown/unknown
Distributed Folding The Distributed Folding project simulated folding proteins to help scientists learn how proteins "fold and assemble into living cells." The project, run by the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, the Hogue Bioinformatics Laboratory and the University of Toronto Department of Biochemistry, and supported by Intel's Philanthropic Peer-to-Peer Program, tested a protein folding algorithm to see if it could reproduce natural protein folds. The project hoped to create "the largest samples of protein folds ever computed." In its first phase, 1a, it made 1 billion folds for five small proteins. In phase 1b it made 10 billion folds for 10 large proteins. Phase 2 began on June 17, 2003 and ended on October 5, 2004. The project received a patent (U.S. Patent number 6490532) for its structure generation algorithm on December 3, 2002. See the results of the proteins which were completed for the project.

Between May 30, 2002 and September 9, 2002, the project competed in the CASP5 structure prediction contest. Results of the competition were made available in late December, 2002. Between July 6, 2004 and August 31, 2004, the project competed in the CASP6 structure prediction contest. Results of the competition were not available as of October 5, 2004.

After the project ended, the project team planned to analyze the results of the proteins it had folded with the current algorithm and to create a better folding algorithm for a possible future distributed computing project.

View a Windows Media Player ASF-format file of a television interview by CityPulse24 of the project coordinators on November 27, 2002.

The project software client ran as a screensaver on Win32 and as a text client on Win32, Linux, Sony PlayStation 2 Linux (it was the first distributed computing client to run on this platform), and many Unix platforms including Mac OS X. The project server and client software was also the first to use a ticketing system for submitting results: when the project server was too busy to receive all of the results clients attempted to submit to it, it would assign each client a numbered "ticket," the clients stored their results locally, and then each client could submit its results when the project server "called its ticket."

See a discussion forum about this project.

Life Sciences October 5, 2004 2 years, 8 months 32,976/unknown
The Analytical Spectroscopy Research Group (ASRG) ran a SETI project with the same basic goal as SETI@Home, to detect artificial radio signals from space. The project used a more manual process: users downloaded work units from a web page, processed them with one of three tools, and emailed results back to the project coordinator. More information about the project is/was available on a volunteer page. The project did not report any statistics or results on its website. Science unknown unknown unknown/unknown
Clear Landmines asked users to click a button to help clear landmines around the world. Each click funded the clearing of at least 21 cm2 of land. The program was paid for by the companies which sponsored the site. Money raised by the program was given to the Canadian Landmine Foundation to help fund the removal of landmines. The project generated over 2,400 clicks per day in its final year. Charity September, 2004 4 years unknown/unknown
MD5CRK attempted to prove that the MD5 encryption algorithm is insecure by finding a collision: two inputs which can produce the same digest (encryption method). No one had ever found a collision in the MD5 hash before the project began. Researchers in China (not associated with MD5CRK) announced on August 17, 2004 that they found a collision (see their paper) and proved that MD5 can be broken in a matter of hours. MD5CRK ended without finding its own collision. It generated over 10 million of the estimated 5 billion points it needed to find a collision.

On August 23, 2004, the project made its database publicly available. "www.engsoc.org/~jlcooke holds GZipped images, rrd files, php and MySQL scripts for download. www.dp.cx/md5crk/explore.php contains a database browser and www.dp.cx/md5crk/database contains access to phpMyAdmin for custom queries. The Database contains all the reported work for over 170 days (trillions upon trillions of operations) of the project."

MD5CRK was the first project to enable website owners to configure their web pages to link to a MD5CRK distributed Java applet. This feature allowed users to participate in the project just by viewing a web page. The applet had a button to allow a user to disable/enable the applet, so that the user could decide whether to allow it to run on his or her system. 174 websites participated in the project. The project also provided a standalone client.

Join a discussion forum about this project.

Cryptography August 20, 2004 6 months 1,803/unknown
Click Fome asked users to click a button to generate a financial donation for foor and other reources to help people in need in Brazil. Thes site was available in Portuguese and English. The donations were paid for by the companies sponsoring the site. The project generated over 8.3 million clicks. Charity June, 2004 unknown unknown/unknown
The Photon Soup 2 rendering project produced a simulation of 382 billion photons in a room. This simulation reproduced one which was done by the project coordinator, Richard Keene, in 1994. The first simulation produced an image for SIGGRAPH 94. That image took 100 SparcStation 1's a month to generate. The new simulation was "much better, with a smaller aperature, in stereo, with 3 cameras, and with some errors fixed, and in Java." It also ran on machines which were 3,000 times more powerful than those of 1994. The results of the project were combined into one image, which will be published in an article about the project. See Richard's April 13, 2004 Slashdot article about the project.

See the project's final images.

Art July 1, 2004 10 weeks unknown/unknown
Help Crack DES had the same goals that the DES project did. The project looked for the remaining 35 bits of a 56-bit key, and it had to find them before a May 16, 2004 deadline. The project ended after searching 84.75% of the keyspace without finding the key. Cryptography May 18, 2004 4 weeks 164/unknown
Click the Planet asked asked users to click buttons to save 2square meters of land per click for endangered forests and wildlife areas. The site was only available in Italian.

The three projects listed on the main page were:

  • Costa Rica (Mapeche Conservation Area) - protect Costa Rican rainforest
  • Amazon (Samauma San Pedro) - protect two forest areas in the heart of the tropical Amazon
  • Tanzania (Mkwaja North) - aquire a large extension of the Savannah and donate it to the government of Tanzania
Charity May, 2004 unknown unknown/unknown
Users could click a button at Aquaplastics 2004 "to help WaterAid deliver clean, safe water and sanitation to people in Malawi and Madagascar." Users could also answer a daily quiz question to earn an extra click. Each click donated €0.10. The project hoped to reach 1.5 million clicks by June 22, 2004 to donate a total of €150,000 to WaterAid. It reached its goal 6 weeks early. The program cost the users nothing (it was paid for by the European plastics industry). Charity May 5, 2004 unknown unknown/unknown
DES was a project by a group of students at Åbo Akademi University in Finland to support a Cryptograpy and Network Security course they were taking. They attempted a brute force search of the DES 56-bit keyspace within 1 month. This kind of encryption was cracked by distributed.net in a one-month contest in 1998. One week into the attempt, their professor gave them the first 8 bits of the key to help them narrow the keyspace so that they would have a chance of finishing the project by the deadline. The winning key, 8a2898441652308a, was found after 383 computers searched 63% of the narrowed keyspace in 3 weeks. Cryptography May 5, 2004 3 weeks 262/383
DALiWorld logo DALiWorld (DALi stands for Distributed Artificial Life) wasn't technically a distributed computing project since it wasn't solving a problem. It was just a fun toy: a distributed virtual aquarium. Written in Java by DALi, Inc., it created a virtual saltwater aquarium in a desktop window or in a screensaver and populated it with fish (which didn't do much more than swim around). When the user was connected to the Internet, some of his or her fish occasionally migrated to other users' aquariums and some of their fish migrated to the user's aquarium (he could turn this feature off if he wanted to). The user could click his right mouse button on each fish to see its passport, which showed who created it and where it had been. Miscellaneous April, 2004 2 1/2 years unknown/unknown
ECC2-109, was a distributed effort to solve Certicom's ECC2-109 challenge. The challenge offered a $10,000 (US) prize. The project calculated 41 million distinguished points using the parallelized rho method "in conjunction with (1) The `distinguished points' technique of Paul Van Oorschot and Mike Wiener, and (2) The ideas in the paper of Edlyn Teske for getting walks more closely approximating a random walk" before it found a collision of two points, which enabled it to find the solution:

  $k = \log_P Q$ is given by either of the following:
    (base 16) k = f1e0add3449596419c359dbdb7e
    or  (base 10) k = 306616351199823445499046157605758.

Join a discussion forum about this project. ecc2.com, which hosted the discussion forum, also hosted the project stats.

Cryptography April 14, 2004 17 months 2,600/unknown
The Collatz Conjecture project attempted to verify the Collatz Conjecture for larger values. This was a test project for the Grid on Tap computing platform.

Collatz Phase 1 tested n from 1 to 99,999,999,999. It began on August 22, 2003, and ended on September 3, 2003. Collatz Phase 2 tested n from 100,000,000,000-350,010,009,999. It began on September 2, 2003 and ended on September 10, 2003. Collatz Phase 3 tested n from 350,010,009,999-850,060,009,999. It began on September 10, 2003. Collatz Phase 4 tested n from 850,060,009,999-1,850,160,009,999. Collatz Phase 5 tested n from 1,850,160,009,999-11,851,160,009,999. Collatz Phase 6 tested n from 11,851,160,009,999-21,852,160,009,999. Collatz Phase 7 tested n from 21,852,160,009,999-71,857,160,010,000. Collatz Phase 8 tested n from 71,857,160,010,000-121,862,160,010,001. The project ended before it completed Collatz Phase 9.

Mathematics January, 2004 5 months unknown/unknown
"Search of the next prime of the form n!+1" used the Windows primeform client to search for primes of the form n! + 1 and n! - 1. Mathematics 2004 at least 4 years unknown/unknown
Genome@home Genome@home, a sister project of Folding@home designed new proteins and genes to learn better how natural genomes have evolved and how natural genes and proteins work. It was the first large-scale public distributed computing project to study protein folding.

Genome@home's first experiment concluded successfully in early March, 2001, with more than 1000 users creating more than 15,000 new genes for 217 proteins. On November 12, 2001, Genome@home began Phase 2 of its protein design experiments. This phase studied "all single-chain proteins in the RCSB Protein Data Bank" with a length up to 150 amino acids--over 3,015 different proteins. As of April, 2003, the project had "used almost 20,000 donated CPU-years to calculate over 6 million new protein sequences." The work done with the version 0.99 client, consisting of nine stages, resulted in 4 major scientific publications.

On May 1, 2002, Genome@Home began a new series of RMSD (root-mean-square deviation) projects to study the structural diversity of "ensembles of protein backbones" used in the design of large proteins.

The following paper was published from the results of this project:
"Thoroughly sampling sequence space: large-scale protein design of structural ensembles." Stefan M. Larson, Jeremy L. England, John R. Desjarlais, & Vijay S. Pande. (2002) Protein Science, Autumn, 2002

See a FAQ about the end of the project and how the project results will be used.

Life Sciences March, 2004 4 years unknown/unknown
CycleTraders combined distributed computing with Peer-to-Peer computing concepts. A user could use the client to measure the response time of other users' websites while they measured the response time of his/her site. Internet unknown unknown unknown/unknown
RSAttack576, was a distributed effort to solve the RSA 576-bit challenge. The project ended after the RSA 576-bit challenge was factored on December 5, 2003, by some people not related to this project. The project processed over 26,468,196 packets (over 7.9404588+14 keys).

Join a discussion forum (in French) about this project.

Cryptography December, 2003 unknown unknown/unknown
Click for Cans (TM) asked volunteers to click on their favorite American football (gridiron) team's helmet on the project website to donate a can of Campbell's Chunky soup to a "variety of hunger relief charities across the [United States]." The project reached its goal of donating 5,000,000 cans. Charity January 4, 2003 2 months unknown/unknown
Genetic TSP used a Java application that ran through a user's web browser and used genetic algorithms to solve a Traveling Salesman Problem (in a TSP, a salesman must find the shortest route in which he/she can visit each a set of cities once and return to his/her starting city). This project attempted to solve a problem of 15,122 cities of Germany. As of December, 2003, the current record-holders of this problem were Princeton University and Rice University. Puzzles/Games December, 2003 2 years unknown/unknown
GRISK searched for K-optimal lattice rules. It completed a Delta=7 project on November 15, 2000, and a Delta=8 project on December 21, 2001. It began a Delta=11 project on December 21, 2001, and completed 22% of it when the GRISK project ended. Mathematics October, 2003 at least 3 years 604/unknown
emirp The Distributed Emirp Project searched for Emirps, prime numbers whose digits, when reversed, are also a prime number (for example, 13 and 31 are Emirps). The project processed 197 blocks.

Join a discussion forum about the project.

Mathematics August, 2003 2 months 65/unknown
Russia flag MD@home studied the properties of oligopeptides. Note that the site is written in Russian, but babelfish provides a reasonable English translation U. K. flag of it. The project simulated the thermal agitation of molecules within large proteins in order to understand how the design of a protein defines the protein's properties and behavior (and the properties and behaviors of the protein's component parts (oligopeptides). The client software simulated the thermal agitation of a molecule and calculated the special characteristics of that thermal agitation. The project processed 32,000 work units. Life Sciences August, 2003 9 months 1,470/unknown
The NEO Project used the NEO-c (Network Exchange Operation for Charity) platform to participate in various computing challenges and projects, and would have donated any winnings to the charities specified by its users. The project was the first to use Microsoft's .NET architecture. The project ended unexpectedly before any results were found for the challenges below:

The project's first challenge was the RSA 576-bit factoring challenge. The project's first attemp to solve the challenge was through random guesses. For this attemp, volunteers generated 39,033,522 packets (.154885015296E+15 keys checked) for the project. The attempt ended on January 10, 2003. The project's second attempt, Phase 2, would have used a General Number Field Sieve (GNFS) algorithm.

The second challenge was the MD5 project. The MD5 encryption algorithm is widely used in business, secure websites, Unix systems, and the Internet. The challenge would have demonstrated MD5's vulnerability, forcing people who use it to develop a better algorithm. This project began on January 30, 2003, and was stopped on May 20, 2003, due to a lack of interest from the MD5 developers (who were outside of the NEO project). The challenge tested at least 0.53% of the MD5 keyspace.

The third challenge was the Tellurium project, a physics project in which space-time geometry, specifically Isaac Newton's Equivalence Principle (see a simpler explanation), would be tested with the handedness or chirality property of matter. The principle has never been tested this way: if the test had caused it to fail, then Albert Einstein's General Relativity theory would be shown to be subtly incorrect. This challenge began on May 9, 2003, but the alpha client for the challenge was never publicly released.

The fourth challenge was World TSP, a study of the Traveling Salesman Problem. This challenge attempted to find the shortest route which visits all 1,904,711 populated cities and towns on Earth. "The current best lower bound on the length of a tour for the World TSP [was] 7,510,666,782 (Kilometers)." This bound was established on June 18, 2002. The challenge used an evolving artificial intelligence algorithm to attempt to beat that bound. With 97,820 total routes completed, the shortest route discovered was 13,802,932,609 Kilometers.

Cryptography, Science July 31, 2003 10 months ~50,000/~50,000
Operation Project X was a distributed effort to solve the Xbox Linux Project, a challenge to crack the 2048-bit RSA private encryption key Microsoft uses to sign Xbox media. If this key was discovered, Linux could be run on the Xbox without modifying the Xbox hardware. The client used Microsoft's .NET architecture, and was available for many platforms, including Xbox. Over 351.3 trillion keys were tested, but the project ended unexpectedly before the key was found.

Source code for the project is available here and here for anyone who would like to continue the project.

Listen to an April 26, 2003 CBC Radio interview (in RealAudio format) with some of the project coordinators.

Cryptography July 31, 2003 4 months ~4,000/unknown
The search for Wieferich prime numbers looked for numbers of the form ap-1 = 1 (mod p2) for a = 2 or 3. The only two known Wieferich primes are 1,093 and 3,511 and there are no other Wieferich primes less than 2 * 1014. The project extended the search limit to 1.25 * 1015, but did not find any new Wieferich primes. 131,429 total ranges (37,424,648,092,395 primes) were checked at an average speed of 621,457 primes per second. 131 near-misses were found. Mathematics June 19, 2003 14 months 304/unknown
dchess logo The DIstributed Chess Project tried to create better chess-playing artificial neural networks. The project software implemented a genetic algorithm "to train multi-layer-perceptron neural networks on sets of chess positions with known best continuations (e.g. endgame studies, mate in n moves, white to move and win, ...)." The software was available as a screensaver or command-line client. It allowed the user to "view the status of the evolution any time in terms of computation time, current generation, current best fitness and population diversity" and to "modify the key parameters of the algorithm before a new task starts (e.g. number of generations, population size, number of hidden layers, number of nodes per hidden layer, ...)" if the user wanted to take an active role in shaping its chess-playing neural networks. Volunteers contributed 16 years 57 days of computing time to the project. Puzzles/Games April, 2003 10 months 658/unknown
Cell Computing Japanese flag Cell Computing was a non-profit project sponsored by NTT Data Corporation, with two sub-projects: finding disease-causing genes, and finding good materials for creating optical microprocessors. Note that this site is written completely in Japanese, but the text translates to English reasonably well in the babelfish translation. Tetsuya Matsushita wrote an excellent English translation U.K. flag of the major information about the project and provided screenshots with translations of important information and buttons on each screen. The project was developed on the United Devices distributed computing platform. By the end of the project, 12,000 PCs contributed results to one or both of the sub-projects. A paper detailing the results of the sub-projects should be available soon.

The sub-projects:

  • BOLERO (Bio Odyssey of Lateen Explorer for Repeated Objects), which searched "for the huge repeat of a human genome," and analyzed "a relation with a cause-of-a-disease gene." (see babelfish translation)
  • OPAL (Optical Property AnaLyzer (of photonic crystals)) which looked "for the material which can manufacture an optical microprocessor." (see babelfish translation)
Life Sciences April 30, 2003 4 months unknown/12,000
The Triangles project found difference triangles with the smallest (optimal) span for a given sequence. The project didn't have a website. The project evolved from a programming contest, sponsored by Al Zimmerman, which ran from July, 2002 to October 15, 2002. See the final results of the contest. The project used a modified version of Jean-Charles Meyrignac's client for the Minimal Equal Sums of Like Powers project and a modified version of Stephen Montgomery-Smith's Dispense Package distributed computing platform.

567,847 entries were submitted for the project. See the smallest known spans discovered by the project.

Join a discussion group about the project.

Mathematics March 7, 2003 4 months 44/unknown
Project Dolphin tracked the total number of keystrokes users made during the use of their computers. It was just for fun. It tracked a total of 34,935,065,880 from over 36,000 users (1,000 times more users than the project coordinator originally planned for). Human January 17, 2003 1 year 36,000/not applicable
DClient was a distributed, brute-force attempt to find the secret "backdoor" password for Tivo's version 3.2 software. This password would allow a Tivo device owner to enable hidden features in the software. The project ended before a key was found. You can read the project post-mortem, download the server source code or the last version of the client application or see the final stats page. The project generated about 2.7 billion blocks of keys using about 85 CPU years.

Version 1 of this project was known as Tivocrack. 320,679 packets were completed for Tivocrack. Tivocrack began from a discussion forum.

Version 2 became active around November 8, 2002.

Cryptography January 20, 2003 3 months unknown/unknown