FairTorrent: A Deficit-Based Distributed Algorithm to Ensure Fairness in Peer-to-Peer Systems

IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, Volume 20, Issue 5, October, 2012, pp. 1361–1374


Peer-to-peer file-sharing applications suffer from a fundamental problem of unfairness. Free-riders cause slower download times for others by contributing little or no upload bandwidth while consuming much download bandwidth. Previous attempts to address this fair bandwidth allocation problem suffer from slow peer discovery, inaccurate predictions of neighboring peers’ bandwidth allocations, underutilization of bandwidth, and complex parameter tuning. We present FairTorrent, a new deficit-based distributed algorithm that accurately rewards peers in accordance with their contribution. A FairTorrent peer simply uploads the next data block to a peer to whom it owes the most data as measured by a deficit counter. FairTorrent is resilient to exploitation by free-riders and strategic peers, is simple to implement, requires no bandwidth overallocation, no prediction of peers’ rates, no centralized control, and no parameter tuning. We implemented FairTorrent in a BitTorrent client without modifications to the BitTorrent protocol and evaluated its performance against other widely used BitTorrent clients. Our results show that FairTorrent provides up to two orders of magnitude better fairness, up to five times better download times for contributing peers, and 60%–100% better performance on average in live BitTorrent swarms.



Columbia University Department of Computer Science