Volunteer computing is an arrangement where volunteers provide or donate their computer resources to projects. That way, these projects are able to do really advanced and time-consuming computations. Most of these projects are scientific trying to solve different problems. Some are run by universities and other not for profit foundations. According to Wikipedia, the first volunteer project started in 1996. Since then, the technology has progressed and many volunteer projects are now out there trying to solve real world problems; some, perhaps, not too real-worldly.
Over the years I have taken part in different volunteer computing projects. My first one was SETI@home. It is a distributed computing project based at UC Berkeley. SETI@home had its own software at the time. Now along with many other projects, it uses BOINC–an open source software for volunteer computing. Around the same time, I also contribute to Folding@home, which is a volunteer computing project that researches protein folding based at Stanford university.
Currently, I am participating in multiple projects, such as Citizen Science Grid, World Community Grid, Asteroids@home, POGS, SETI@home, ClimatePrediction.net and MindModeling. For some I give more resource than the others, depending on my own set of priorities.
How does BOINC work
Once you install BOINC, you choose one or more projects to contribute to. Each project will download a set of tasks to your computer and start computing. Upon completion, the results are uploaded to the project server. Once each task is completed, the volunteer receives points which is used for ranking purposes. It also gives the volunteer a sense of achievement.
There are teams where a group of people have come together and created a team based on their geographic location or other attributes. It gives it a more sense of community and positive competition. Some people prefer to join such teams, other choose not to.
Because of the large number of PCs, smart-phones and tablets in the world, volunteer computing provides more computing power to science projects than any other type of computing. BOINC works within your available resources. You can set it up to only use your computer processor when it is not busy or is least busy. You can install it on your mobile and run it while you are charging your phone.
Join Volunteer Computing
By joining any of these projects, you will only give your device’s idle time. These projects are researching diseases, looking out for asteroids, predict climate changes, work with number theories and even try to find aliens. So when you participate, you will be doing a world of good. Become part of a great network of people who are contributing to solving real problems all the time. There is no better way to use your device’s idle time.