[p2p-research] Building Alliances

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 7 06:36:49 CET 2009

J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 3:20 PM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> P2P theory is a mess...in a postmodern sense.
>> The heat to light ratio is very high right now.  I'm personally looking for
>> someone to emerge as the clear post-scarcity theorist.  Right now, it is
>> muddled.  But maybe...  Every few days I think I can make some sense of
>> it...but it slips away.  It is very difficult to get to a moral philosophy
>> that aligns with a respectable futurism.
> I did research a few years ago on the mathematics of optimally
> efficient and pervasively decentralized networks. This theoretical
> area is very important because it is used to prove all sorts of things
> about cooperative systems of independent agents. It is literally the
> mathematics of dynamics of P2P systems in the abstract and very
> challenging theoretically with many unanswered questions. One thing
> that has surprised me is that it is never discussed here even though
> it is very relevant.
> One of the critical theoretical problems of such systems is that there
> are only two known strategies -- from two different theoretical
> derivations -- for P2P system design that do not decay into
> pathologically suboptimal equilibria. If you have a system that
> necessarily cannot be constrained to those strategies, the system is
> not stable in a well-functioning configuration.  The reason I was
> researching it at all was because there was an interesting real-world
> political policy problem that could not use either known strategy; I
> never found a satisfactory solution, but I suspect one might not even
> exist for that case.
> The problem is that the two robust strategies in literature (someone
> may have come up with a new one in the last couple years, probably
> not) are both effectively based on adaptive market-like pricing
> mechanisms. You can solve the problem with strong centralization, but
> that has its own problems in real systems e.g. single point of
> failure/corruption.
> I don't have answers, but designing theoretically stable, strongly
> decentralized P2P systems that do not have major provable pathologies
> is very, very hard outside of some fairly narrow cases. I am very fond
> of the idea of strongly decentralized P2P economies but I haven't seen
> much in the way of a rigorous formulation of such a system here that
> would be both robust and without significant pathologies.

Any references to the literature would be appreciated.

--Paul Fernhout

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