Well a distributed computing project tries to solve a big problem by dividing it into a number of small sub problems and then by solving and combining the sub problem we will get a solution for the first problem. Some of the problems can be easily divided into sub problems for solution. Consider the problem of finding the factors of a very large number. The problem can be solved using a large number of computers by assigning each computer with a range of values to check whether it can be a factor of the given large number.
Some of the practical problems need a very large amount of computing power. So one solution is to divide the problem into a large set of sub problems each of which can be solved by personal computers or laptops without much power. There are hundreds of distributed computing projects in need of our computing resources which are freely available and often under utilized. All we need to do is go to a particular projects home page and download the program. Most of the programs are very small in size. They will run automatically in your computer and once in a while they will communicate with the server to send back the results and get new assignments.There are no hidden viruses or trojans and with a single click you can uninstall the programs.
The two projects I run on my computer are The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) and Folding@home (FAH or F@h).
GIMPS tries to identify large Mersenne prime. A clear understanding of Mersenne primes will help us develop better cryptographic algorithms.
The Links to the wikipedia article on GIMPS and GIMPS Home page are given below.
Wikipedia Article on GIMPS
GIMPS Home Page
FAH is a project for disease research that simulates protein folding. The results are very useful in cancer treatment. The idle CPU in your computer can be used as an effective tool to fight cancer.
The Links to the wikipedia article on FAH and FAH Home page are given below.
Wikipedia Article on FAH
Home Page of FAH
There are other interesting distributed computing projects also. The Link to the wikipedia article is given below.
Wikipedia article on Distributed computing Projects
If you have any suggestions or corrections please post a comment.