World Community Grid

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World Community Grid
Motto technology solving problems
Formation November 16, 2004[1]
Type distributed computing project
Membership over 432,000 registered user accounts[2]

World Community Grid (WCG) is an effort to create the world's largest public computing grid to tackle scientific research projects that benefit humanity.[3] Launched November 16, 2004, it is funded and operated by IBM with client software currently available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD operating systems.[4][5]

Using the idle time of computers around the world, World Community Grid's research projects have analyzed aspects of the human genome, HIV, dengue, muscular dystrophy, and cancer. The organization has so far partnered with nearly 400 other companies and organizations to assist in the work and has over 432,000 registered user accounts.


[edit] History

IBM and other research participants sponsored the United Devices Smallpox Research Grid Project to accelerate the discovery of a cure for smallpox. The smallpox study used a massive distributed computing grid to analyze compounds' effectiveness against smallpox.[6] The project allowed scientists to screen 35 million potential drug molecules against several smallpox proteins to identify good candidates for developing into smallpox treatments. In the first 72 hours, 100,000 results were returned. By the end of the project, 44 strong treatment candidates had been identified.[7] Based on the success of the Smallpox study, IBM announced on November 16, 2004 the creation of World Community Grid with the goal of creating a technical environment where other humanitarian research could be processed.[6][1]

World Community Grid initially only supported Windows, using the proprietary Grid MP software from United Devices which powered the distributed computing projects. Demand for Linux support led to the addition in November 2005 of open source BOINC grid technology which powers projects such as SETI@home and Climateprediction.[8] Mac OS X and Linux are now officially supported.[4]

As of March 24, 2009, World Community Grid had over 434,000 registered user accounts with over 1.2 million registered computers. Over the course of the project, over 226,000 years of computing time have been donated and over 254 million workunits have been completed. [1]

[edit] How it works

The World Community Grid client software works in the background, showing itself as a small icon in the system tray. When the BOINC client is used, as in this example, the icon is a small "B."
The client software's status window, displaying information about the work currently being done in the background. This particular computer is 60.3% complete with its current workunit. When it reaches 100%, it will start on a new workunit and the results of the previous workunit will be transmitted back to WCG.

The World Community Grid software uses the idle time of Internet-connected computers to perform research calculations.[9] Users install WCG client software onto their computers. This software works in the background, using spare system resources to process work for WCG.[10][9] When a piece of work or workunit is completed, the client software sends it back to WCG over the Internet and downloads a new workunit.[11][3] To ensure accuracy, the WCG servers send out multiple copies of each workunit.[12] Then, when the results are received, they are collected and validated against each other.[13][14]

Users may choose to use graphics output by the current workunit as a screensaver.

While many public computing grids such as SETI@home and Folding@home are devoted to a single project, World Community Grid offers multiple humanitarian projects under a single umbrella. Projects are approved by an advisory board, with members from many major research institutions and universities, as well as the U.S. federal government and WHO.[15][16] Users are included in all projects by default, but may opt out of projects as they choose.[17]

When World Community Grid launched, they used the proprietary Grid MP client from United Devices. After adding support for the open source BOINC client in 2005, World Community Grid eventually discontinued the Grid MP client and consolidated on the BOINC platform in 2008.[18]

Even though WCG makes use of open source client software, the actual applications that perform the scientific calculations may not be. However, several of the science applications are available under a free license, although the source is not available directly from WCG.[19]

[edit] Potential problems

The picture shows particular two CPU usage history (under Hyper-threading) when BOINC client software is processing two tasks on each CPU under Microsoft Windows XP SP2. CPU usage history indicates almost 0% to 100% swing with peak to peak of 3 seconds interval, when view +update speed set to high, at first half recording period. The rest of half period of history is set to update speed normal and left CPU processes indicates slightly more than 60% and right CPU processes show 35% approx. in average.

Because the World Community Grid software increases CPU usage by consuming unused processing time, it is possible for the software to cause abnormal behavior on volunteered computers. Despite the unobtrusive nature of the software, decreases in system performance could still occur. High CPU usage could also cause a computer to overheat.

The BOINC client avoids this using a variety of limits that suspend computation when there are insufficient free resources. Unlike other BOINC projects, World Community Grid set the BOINC defaults conservatively, making the chances of computer damage extremely small. The default CPU throttle is 60%. The throttle is coarse-grained; for example, if usage is set to 60% it will work at 100% for 3 seconds, then at 0% for 2 seconds, resulting in an average decrease of processor use.[20]

[edit] Statistics and competition

The contributions of each user are recorded and user contribution statistics are publicly available.[2] Due to the fact that the processing time of each workunit varies from computer to computer depending on the difficulty of the workunit, the speed of the computer and the amount of idle resources available, contributions are usually measured in terms of points. Points are awarded for each workunit depending on the effort required to process that workunit.[21]

Upon completing a workunit, the BOINC client will request the number of points it thinks it deserves based on software benchmarks (see BOINC Credit System#Cobblestones). Since multiple computers process the same workunit to ensure accuracy, the World Community Grid servers can look at the points claimed by each of those computers. The WCG servers disregard statistical outliers, average the remaining values and award the resulting number of points to each computer.[22][23]

Within the grid, users may join teams that have been created by organizations, groups, or individuals. Teams allow for a heightened sense of community identity and can also inspire competition. As teams compete against each other, more work is done for the grid overall.[24]

[edit] Outreach

World Community Grid recognizes companies and organizations as partners if they promote WCG within their company or organization. As of August 25, 2008, WCG had 396 partners. [2]

Also, as part of its commitment to improving human health and welfare, the results of all computations completed on World Community Grid are released into the public domain and made available to the scientific community.[3]

In the fall of 2006, IBM sponsored an online and print advertisement campaign for WCG.[25] Print advertisements appeared in Exceptional Parent, Ability Magazine, Forbes magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Fortune magazine.[26][27]

[edit] Active projects

Launched November 21, 2005[28]

[edit] FightAIDS@Home

FightAIDS@Home was World Community Grid's second project and its first to target a single disease. Each individual computer processes one potential drug molecule and tests how well it would dock with HIV protease, acting as a protease inhibitor.[29] Scripps Research Institute published its first peer-reviewed scientific paper about the results of FightAIDS@Home on April 21, 2007.[30] This paper explains that the results up to that point will primarily be used to improve the efficiency of future FightAIDS@Home calculations.[31]

Human Proteome Folding Phase 2
Launched June 23, 2006[32]

[edit] Human Proteome Folding Phase 2

Human Proteome Folding Phase 2 (HPF2) was the third project to run on World Community Grid. This project, following on from HPF1, focuses on human-secreted proteins, with special focus on biomarkers and the proteins on the surface of cells as well as Plasmodium, the organism that causes malaria. HPF2 generates higher-resolution protein models than HPF1. Though these higher-resolution models are more useful, they also require more processing power to generate.[33]

Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together
Launched August 21, 2007[32]

[edit] Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together is sponsored by scientists at the University of Texas and the University of Chicago and will run in two phases.[34] Phase 1, launched August 21, 2007,[32] will use AutoDock 2007 (the same software used for FightAIDS@Home) to test potential antiviral drugs (through NS3 protease inhibition) against viruses from the family flaviviridae.[35] Phase 2 "will use a more computationally intensive program to screen the candidates that make it through Phase 1."[36] The drug candidates that make it through Phase 2 will then be lab-tested.[36]

Help Conquer Cancer
Launched November 1, 2007

[edit] Help Conquer Cancer

The Help Conquer Cancer project is sponsored by the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI), Princess Margaret Hospital and University Health Network of Toronto, Canada. The project involves X-ray crystallography.

Nutritious Rice for the World
Launched May 12, 2008

[edit] Nutritious Rice for the World

This research in the field of agronomy is sponsored by the University of Washington's Computational Biology Research Group [3]. The purpose of this project is to predict the structure of proteins of major strains of rice, in order to help farmers breed better rice strains with higher crop yields, promote greater disease and pest resistance, and utilize a full range of bioavailable nutrients that can benefit people around the world, especially in regions where malnutrition is a critical concern.

The Clean Energy Project
Launched December 5, 2008

[edit] The Clean Energy Project

The mission of the Clean Energy Project is to find new materials for the next generation of solar cells and later, energy storage devices. Researchers are employing molecular mechanics and electronic structure calculations to predict the optical and transport properties of molecules that could become the next generation of solar cell materials. By harnessing the computing power of the World Community Grid, researchers can calculate the electronic properties of tens of thousands of organic materials – many more than could ever be tested in a lab – and determine which candidates are most promising for developing affordable solar energy technology.[37]

Help Fight Childhood Cancer
Launched March 16, 2009

[edit] Help Fight Childhood Cancer

WCG screensaver, Help Fight Childhood Cancer, running under BOINC client software

The mission of the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project is to find drugs that can disable three particular proteins associated with neuroblastoma, one of the most frequently occurring solid tumors in children. Identifying these drugs could potentially make the disease much more curable when combined with chemotherapy treatment.[38]

[edit] Completed projects

Human Proteome Folding Phase 1
Launched November 16, 2004[39]
Completed July 18, 2006[39]

[edit] Human Proteome Folding Phase 1

The first project launched on World Community Grid was the Human Proteome Folding Project, or HPF1, which aims to predict the structure of human proteins. This project was unique in that computation was done in tandem with the distributed computing project.[40] Devised by Richard Bonneau at the Institute for Systems Biology, the project used grid computing to produce the likely structures for each of the proteins using a Rosetta Score. From these predictions, researchers hope to predict the function of the myriad proteins. This increased understanding of the human proteins could prove vital in the search for cures to human diseases.[41] Computing for this project was officially completed on July 18, 2006.[42] Research results for the yeast portion of HPF1 have been published.[43]

Help Defeat Cancer
Launched July 20, 2006[39]
Completed April 2007[39]

[edit] Help Defeat Cancer

The Help Defeat Cancer project seeks to improve the ability of medical professionals to determine the best treatment options for patients with breast, head, or neck cancer. The project worked by identifying visual patterns in large numbers of tissue microarrays taken from archived tissue samples. By correlating the pattern data with information about treatment and patient outcome, the results of this project could help provide better targeted treatment options.[44]

Genome Comparison
Launched November 21, 2006[39]
Completed July 21, 2007[39]

[edit] Genome Comparison

The Genome Comparison project is sponsored by the Brazilian research institution Fiocruz.[32] The project seeks to compare gene sequences of different organisms against each other in order to find similarities between them. Scientists hope to discover what purpose a particular gene sequence serves in a particular function of one organism, via comparing it to a similar gene sequence of known function in another organism.[45]

[edit] Inactive projects

Launched August 31, 2007[46]

[edit] AfricanClimate@Home

The mission of AfricanClimate@Home is to develop more accurate climate models of specific regions in Africa. This will serve as a basis for understanding how the climate will change in the future so that measures designed to alleviate the adverse effects of climate change can be implemented. World Community Grid's tremendous computing power will be used to understand and reduce the uncertainty with which climate processes are simulated over Africa.

Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy
Launched December 19, 2006[32]
Completed June 11, 2007[47]

[edit] Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy is run by Décrypthon, a collaboration between French Muscular Dystrophy Association, French National Center for Scientific Research and IBM, and Phase 1 investigated protein-protein interactions for 40,000 proteins whose structures are known, with particular focus on those proteins that play a role in neuromuscular diseases. The database of information produced will help researchers design molecules to inhibit or enhance binding of particular macromolecules, hopefully leading to better treatments for muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases.[48] This project was available only to agents running the Grid MP client, making it unavailable to users running BOINC.[49]

Phase 2 of the Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy project will start once the results from the first phase are analysed. Phase 2 will run on the BOINC platform.[50][18]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b IBM (2004-11-16). IBM Introduces 'World Community Grid'. Press release. Retrieved on 2009-02-11. 
  2. ^ a b "Global Statistics". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2008-06-08. 
  3. ^ a b c "About Us". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  4. ^ a b "System Requirements". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  5. ^ "get_project_config.php". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  6. ^ a b "Computers enlisted for bioterror fight". BBC. 2003-02-05. Retrieved on 2008-11-24. 
  7. ^ Clery, Daniel "IBM Offers Free Number Crunching for Humanitarian Research Projects" in Science. DOI:10.1126/science.308.5723.773a. Retrieved on 2008-11-24
  8. ^ knreed (2005-10-31). "Linux is here!!!". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-30. 
  9. ^ a b Weiss, Todd (2004-11-17). "'World Community Grid' seeks to harness unused computers". Computerworld.,10801,97577,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  10. ^ "Member Policy". Privacy and Security. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  11. ^ "Returning Results: What is a Work Unit?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  12. ^ "Installing the Windows Agent: If I re-install the software, will the work that I am doing be lost forever?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  13. ^ "The Grid". Tryscience. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  14. ^ "Points: What is validation?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  15. ^ "What is World Community Grid?: How does World Community Grid get new projects?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  16. ^ "Advisory Board". About Us. World Community grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  17. ^ "Getting Started: I'm using the BOINC agent, how do I choose which project my computer processes work for?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  18. ^ a b bbover3 (2007-08-17). "BOINC Migration Announcement". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-17. 
  19. ^ "Agent: I have a platform that isn't supported by World Community Grid. Could I receive the code and compile it myself?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  20. ^ "CPU Usage: Why does my PC show high CPU use?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  21. ^ "Points: What are points?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  22. ^ "Points: How are points calculated for the BOINC agent?". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  23. ^ knreed (2006-11-02). "BOINC Points". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  24. ^ "Teams". Help. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  25. ^ "News & Media". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  26. ^ "Magazine Print Ad #1". News & Media. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  27. ^ "Magazine Print Ad #2". News & Media. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-05. 
  28. ^ World Community Grid Targets AIDS in Giant Research Effort. Press release. 2005-11-21. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  29. ^ "FightAIDS@Home". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  30. ^ Chang, Max W.; William Lindstrom, Arthur J. Olson, and Richard K. Belew (2007-04-21). "Analysis of HIV Wild-Type and Mutant Structures via in Silico Docking against Diverse Ligand Libraries". American Chemical Society. doi:10.1021/ci700044s. Retrieved on 2007-07-30. 
  31. ^ "FightAIDS@Home News Volume 3" (PDF). The Scripps Research Institute. 2007-05-10. Retrieved on 2007-07-30. 
  32. ^ a b c d e "Active Research". Research. World Community Grid. 
  33. ^ "Human Proteome Folding - Phase 2". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  34. ^ Didactylos (2007-06-21). "Re: Project about dengue ever". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-07. 
  35. ^ "Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together: About the Project". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-24. 
  36. ^ a b lawrencehardin (2007-07-10). "Re: Results...". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-07. 
  37. ^ The Clean Energy Project research page on WCG
  38. ^ Help Fight Childhood Cancer research page on WCG
  39. ^ a b c d e f "Help Defeat Cancer Project Overview". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-04. 
  40. ^ Viktors (2006-06-26). "Launch of Human Proteome Folding Phase 2 project". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-04. 
  41. ^ "Human Proteome Folding Project". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-04. 
  42. ^ "Human Proteome Folding Project Overview". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  43. ^ "Superfamily Assignments for the Yeast Proteome through Integration of Structure Prediction with the Gene Ontology". Research. PLoS Biology. Retrieved on 2007-07-30. 
  44. ^ "About the Project". Research: Help Defeat Cancer. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-04. 
  45. ^ "Genome Comparison Overview". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  46. ^ knreed (2007-08-31). "Launch of AfricanClimate@Home Project". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-09-01. 
  47. ^ uplinger (2007-06-11). "Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy Phase 1 has completed". World Community Grid. 
  48. ^ "Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy". Research. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  49. ^ Viktors (2006-12-19). "Launch of the Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy Project". World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-07-28. 
  50. ^ "Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy". Research - Project FAQs. World Community Grid. Retrieved on 2007-08-04. 

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