DC.Ars: cheaper by the dozen edition

Welcome back to another motivating issue of DC.Ars. If you think we've tried to pitch good projects before, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Today we're featuring not one, but twelve projects that need your help! If we can get a handful of crunchers on each project, then victory, glory, fame, and honor are all yours. HangZhou Night Net

There's been a recent shake-up in the DC Vault. Two projects in which Ars was doing well have gone dormant and therefore were stricken from the Vault. Additionally, a new project ([email protected]) in which Ars Technica has nearly zero points accumulated was added to the DC Vault. These changes have tipped the apple cart—not only has Ars been knocked out of first place in the Physical Sciences category, but we've been knocked out of first place overall!

What exactly is the DC Vault? In a nutshell, it is a scoreboard for distributed computing projects. Each and every project awards points to individuals for the work they do on a project. Most, if not all, of these projects support the formation of teams by these individuals. The DC Vault collects these team points and compiles them into scores. Teams are ranked by their: overall scores, scores in each of four project categories, and by their score in each individual project. A change in score in any one project can have a noticeable effect across the entire Vault.

The four project categories in the DC Vault allow for the sorting of the projects based upon the focus of that individual project. The four categories are:

Physical sciences: areas such as astronomy, chemistry, physics,
and meteorology are covered here. Project examples include [email protected], Muon1, and
Spinhenge. Bio and medical sciences: anything related to medicine and biology here.
Examples include World Community Grid and SIMAP. Mathematical: self-explanatory. The bulk of the projects
we are covering in this article are Mathematical in nature. Miscellaneous: if it doesn't fit any of the above, it goes here.
Majestic-12 and MoneyBee are examples of these types of projects.

There is also another way to look examine each project—by its statistics. Free DC keeps track of team and individual points, keeping these scores separated. Statistics are kept purely for the sake of comparison within the project itself. Free-DC is also a distributed computing team. They compete with Ars and every other team out there, but are gracious enough to use their team web site to host this plethora of information for everyone's use, free of charge. I watch my stats closely to see how I am performing within a project both against my own teammates and against members of other teams. You will also find information gleaned from Free-DC's stats page in the project descriptions below. If you become an avid DCer, you will find yourself knowing the URL by heart and consulting the page often (as I do).

By now some of you might be saying to yourselves "But Chris, I'm not competitive, I hate statistics, and I don't care about DC Vault standing." Fine! This is Ars—no one is going to think less of you because of that. Humor me long enough to ask you a few questions, please. Do you care about the accuracy of climate prediction? What about solving incredibly complex math problems, or the mapping out of our galaxy? Are you interested in nanoparticle research that has direct applications to chemotherapy? What about finding drug candidates for the fight against communicable diseases? The point to these questions is that there are many reasons to participate in distributed computing besides the DC Vault. I am hoping that the following information will tweak or renew interest in a lot of you! So please, read on.

Critical projects

[email protected]: (Atmospheric Process Simulator). The goal of this project is to conduct research into the effects of atmospheric dispersion as it relates to the accuracy of measurements used in climate prediction. We have come to the conclusion that it's impossible to get back into first place in the Physical Sciences category of the DC Vault without a strong effort in APS. This should be one of Ars' main focal DC points.

Our weakness is that APS is a young project (in the Alpha stage) and doesn't often hand out Work Units (WUs). This makes it ideal to run alongside one or more other projects. The challenge on this project is not coming from those who wish to overtake us, rather, we have been caught with our pants down and we have almost no points. We need to be inside the top 40 in order to regain our number one slot in the DC Vault. (Current Ars Rank: 105, Production: 0)

Note: This project is on short-term hiatus until Mid-November. The project administrator is off on his honeymoon.

PSP-PRP: Prime Serpienski Project (PRP). This is a mathematical project involved in the search for large prime numbers. This project looks at a special class of prime numbers called proth numbers which have the general formula k*2^n+1. It further specializes by looking at numbers for which k is prime in k*2^n+1.

At first glance, it looks like Ars is kicking tail in this project and doesn't need any help. That is where the stats are deceiving. This is a project were people/teams employ dumping. Dumping is when a team or person completes an enormous number of work units offline and then submits them all to a project at once. These jumps can really accelerate a team's score without showing up as a highly daily average production. This is how Ars is being overtaken. Don't be fooled by the numbers. This is a critical project for two reasons: 1) several teams are overtaking us; 2) the DC Vault points per position are huge—over 400! (Current Ars Rank: 1, Production: 1)

BOINC projects

[email protected] This project tries to find ABC integer triples related to the ABC conjecture. This project can be a big confusing because it recently went through a beta phase. It is now back on track with Ars falling steadily behind. The Ars team seems to be struggling with production that lags far behind their place in the standings. If you like Math projects, this is a small, stable one. (Current Ars Rank: 25, Production 55)

[email protected]:. This is one of my new favorite projects. The focus of this project is to search for the model that best describes our Universe and find the range of models that agree with the available astronomical and particle physics data. This is a new project, still in the Alpha stage. It has a few quirks, but I find it stable enough to run. We are really behind our major competitors, AMD Users and FreeDC, in this one. Note that you cannot currently join this project from the BOINC join page. You have to go to the account creation page. (Current Ars Rank: 19, Production: 4)

PrimeGrid. PrimeGrid consists of four subprojects all surrounding prime number discovery.

Twin Prime Search: Searches for record twin primes of the form k*2n + 1
and k*2n – 1. Cullen Prime Search: Searches for gigantic primes of forms n*2n + 1. Woodall Prime Search: Searches for gigantic primes of forms n*2n – 1. GCW Sieve: A combined candidate testing project in support of the Cullen
and Woodal prime searches.

(Current Ars Rank: 16, Production: 15)

Rectilinear Crossing Numbers. Do you like computational and combinatorial geometry? If so, this project answers the question "how many ways can you connect n number of dots without any lines crossing?" Currently, this project is focusing on n-18. (Current Ars Rank: 14, Production: 13)

RieselSieve BOINC. This project provides a way to examine all potential prime candidates in preparation for the Riesel LLR project. By distributing the sieving process, the depth of the screening can be increased a hundredfold and be completed in a more realistic time period. (Current Ars Rank: 13, Production: 8)

[email protected] covers nanotech magnetic molecule research and discovery. The long-term goal is eventual use in chemotherapy and tiny memory modules. I like this project because the work units are small and therefore finish quickly. For example, my Athlon X2 4400+ Brisbane completes a pair of work units in just shy of an hour. (Current Ars Rank: 18, Production: 11)

World Community Grid. This general-purpose project asks only one thing: projects submitted for consideration must be for the benefit of humanity. Current projects include climate prediction in Africa, drug research for the dengue family of viruses (Dengue, Hepatitis C, West Nile , and Yellow Fever), protein structure prediction, and AIDS research. You can select any or all projects to work on. Be careful about selecting only one or two, as all projects are known to have periods without work. This started as a non-BOINC project but is migrating completely to BOINC now. New conscripts will be required to run the BOINC client version. (Current Ars Rank: 87, Production: 90)


EulerNET. This project searches for minimal equal sums of like powers (e.g. 5^2 = 4^2 + 3^2 = 25), currently looking for a power of 6 equal to 6 powers of 6. While not high on the practicality scale, this problem has befuddled mathematicians for 40 years, and is based in Euler's conjecture dating back 230 years. If you want a project for an old computer—you accrue more points for greater time spent working on a WU—or a secondary project to soak up a few random cycles, then this may be the project for you! (Current Ars Rank: 17, Production: ?)

Majestic-12 is all about bandwidth, but is light on processor usage. Majestic-12 is developing a search engine based upon community support and distributed crawling. Crawling takes a lot of hardware, and is one of the biggest challenges behind search engines. Once crawled, the data is passed back to the central server for indexing and use in the search engine. Majestic currently has 37 million URLs indexed and 58 million URLs targeted for search. This project can will use a lot of bandwidth, but it's not necessary to run it constantly to have a big impact. (Current Ars Rank: 5, Production: 8)
Note: Please be aware of your ISP's bandwidth caps when running this project. *cough*Comcast*cough*

MoneyBee. Are you still waiting for a call from Howie Mandel confirming your appearance on Deal or No Deal and Donald Trump refuses to let you strut your stuff on The Apprentice? Forget the Lotto this week—MoneyBee may be just the project for you!

MoneyBee is a Germany-based financial securities analysis project, which analyzes publicly traded negotiable instruments (both debt and equity) that are traded over the international securities markets. The project has five language options on its site, including English. Participating in the project allows you free access to the current technical analysis performed and compiled by yourself and the project's other contributors (as long as you have submitted one work unit in the last 30 days). Oh, and please try not to forget us "little guys" who knew you before you hit it big! (Current Ars Rank: 33, Production: ?)

Muon1 Distributed Particle Accelerator Design. This project is good for rarely connected or no-net computers. The client generates results based on a seed that comes with the client install. The seed can be updated as infrequently as you like (even never, which helps diversify results), while results may be uploaded at your leisure. The project lays groundwork for an experiment known as the Neutrino Factory. The Neutrino Factory has several scientific aims, from various physics experiments to neutralizing radioactive waste. (Current Ars Rank: 4, Production: ?)

Ars DC projects and rankingsProjectTeam nameRank30-day rankPoints/placePrime Sierpinski Problem — PRP Ars Technica Team Prime Rib 14434.78Muon1 DPADArs Technica Team Atomic Milkshake44181.82Majestic-12Ars [email protected] Technica1054848.54EulerNetArs Technica Team Olive Oil17—36.76Riesel Sieve Project — BOINCArs Technica131418.76Rectilinear Crossing Number Ars [email protected] Technica254317.15PrimeGridArs Technica162612.64MoneyBeeArs Technica TeamHoneyNutLoops33—[email protected] Technica18127.79World Community GridArs Technica176920.57

Iff you want to defend the revered name of Ars when it comes to DC, join the action, and if you decide to sign up, please remember to join the associated Ars Technica team.

A well known quote of John Paul Jones is this: "I have not yet begun to fight!" A less-well-known quote, yet quite applicable is this one: "It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win."

What say ye?

Joe O, StratCat, and James Badgley (Hobbes) all contributed to this article.