Uncheatable Distributed Computations

Author: Philippe Golle and Ilya Mironov.

Computationally expensive tasks that can be parallelized are most efficiently completed by distributing the computation among a large number of processors. The growth of the Internet has made it possible to invite the participation of just about any computer in such distributed computations. This introduces the potential for cheating by untrusted participants. In a commercial setting where participants get paid for their contribution, there is incentive for dishonest participants to claim credit for work they have not done. In this paper, we propose security schemes that defend against this threat with very little overhead. Our weaker scheme discourages cheating by ensuring that it does not pay off, while our stronger schemes let participants prove that they have done (almost) all the work they were assigned with high probability.