A Survey of Incentive Mechanisms in Peer-to-Peer Systems

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Executive Summary

The fundamental assumption that Peer-To-Peer (P2P) networks can thrive on voluntary contribution of altruistic peers can no longer be supported without considering the impact of rational behavior on such decentralized systems. This paper attempts to shed light on the impact of rational free-riding behavior of participating peers on the stability and existence of real-world peer-to-peer networks and the various attempts to cope with this problem. In particular, the authors focus on the economic principles that drive these problems, the various incentive mechanisms proposed to thwart these problems and analytical tools used to describe these rational manipulations in P2P systems.

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