Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh, PA) have developed a method of speeding up the transfer of large data files over the Internet by configuring peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services to share not only identical files, but also similar files. By identifying relevant chunks of files similar to a desired file, the Similarity-Enhanced Transfer (SET) increases the number of potential sources for downloads. Boosting the number of sources usually translates into faster P2P transfers.

Once the download of a data file is initiated, the source file is divided into smaller, unique chunks. Different chunks are downloaded simultaneously from numerous sources that have the identical file, and then the chunks are reassembled into a single file. While downloading is underway, SET continues to search for similar files.

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