[RC5] RC5 question

Bruce Wilson bwilson at distributed.net
Sun Oct 5 09:03:20 EDT 2003

Hi, Richard.

I appreciate your comments, as you do raise excellent points.  I respond in
order to explain our position, and why things are as they are.

>  BW> The point for distributed.net to participate in the contest is to
>  BW> demonstrate the power of distributed computing
> My Point is that one can demonstrate the power of distributed computing
> well with projects that make much more sense to me than rc5-72+.
> For me making sense is to help mankind in some way.
> (OGR helps to prove that the known shortest rulers ARE the shortest
> climate prediction.net helps scientists to get insights into climate
> models
> protein folding helps scientists to simulate how organic molecules fold.
> ........)

RC5 and OGR both have one very important advantage over the other projects
you mention: they both have working cores written to work on our network.
We have sounded the call in many forums (including this list) for coders
with a passion for developing a new core (project of their choosing), and
for projects who want to make use of our network, but we have not had many
useful responses.

We would love to have a whole family of projects which satisfy all the
different definitions of "helping mankind".  We're looking and waiting for
those projects.

> I am not against the rc5 project.
> I participated in rc5-64 and I run rc5-72 as a reserve project if the
> servers run put of OGR stubs.
> But I can't see any benefit in solving rc5 now.
> What knowledge does mankind gain by solving rc5-72 that it doesn't have
now ?

As our primary goal is still distributed computing, we do gain knowledge
about distributed computing.  Yes there are other paths to this, but the RSA
contests serve as a good "standby project" which can keep our network busy
as other short-term projects come and go.

And as I mentioned earlier, the RSA contests have something no other project
you've mentioned has:  a cash prize for completion.  We have a total annual
operating budget of $0, aside from donations and contest winnings.
Completing the contest and getting to keep $2000 or $6000 is very
attractive.  Likewise, the chance of winning $1000 or $2000 helps to draw in
new participants.  If those participants choose to back-burner the RC5
projects, we gain more support for whatever other projects we are running.

>  BW> Participating in a crypto contest happens to be a good way to apply
>  BW> distributed computing technology.
> Yes.
> But I am personally sure that there are projects that a) are well
> and b) make some sense by providing new information to all of us.

But until c) someone who understands them joins us to help author a core, we
can only talk.

>  BW> Various people within DCTI have various opinions about the usefulness
>  BW> of the results of the project, politically and otherwise, but
>  BW> ultimately we're not making any statement other than "distributed
>  BW> computing can do that".
> The great thing is that distributed.net offers a client where you can
> plug in new projects.

There is a little more to it than simply plugging it in.  We also have to
make the projects workunits fit into our distribution format, accomodate key
distribution at the master and proxies, build in some anti-cheating tests,
and come up with a meaningful way to display stats.  For a project which,
for example, requires 256K of data transferred per work unit, we would need
to make some significant changes to the entire chain.

Still, all these issues can be overcome.  We just need a reason to make the

> The reason for my posts is to get people started to think which of the 2
> current projects they set the focus on.

And for some people, RC5-72 will still be the right choice.  Not because of
any particular message they want to send, but because they know that every
block they process has an equal likelihood of containing the winning key,
earning them the prize.  Others like yourself prefer OGR because it has
tangible benefits to mankind.  Some only do it for the stats, so they will
choose the project to which their platform is most suited.  Others just want
bragging rights.  We welcome all these participants equally.

> Maybe there will be a third project somewhen in the future.
> (maybe dnet could cooperate with some biochemistry institute ...
> just dreaming :)

The invitation is open.  If you can point such a project to us, or point us
to them, we would be glad to talk about ways we can work together.

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