Abstract

Motivated by the study of peer-to-peer file swarming systems a la BitTorrent, we introduce a probabilistic model of coupon replication systems. These systems consist of users, aiming to complete a collection of distinct coupons. Users are characterised by their current collection of coupons, and leave the system once they complete their coupon collection. The system evolution is then specified by describing how users of distinct types meet, and which coupons get replicated upon such encounters. For open systems, with exogenous user arrivals, we derive necessary and sufficient stability conditions in a layered scenario, where encounters are between users holding the same number of coupons. We also consider a system where encounters are between users chosen uniformly at random from the whole population. We show that performance, captured by sojourn time, is asymptotically optimal in both systems as the number of coupon types becomes large. We also consider closed systems with no exogenous user arrivals. In a special scenario where users have only one missing coupon, we evaluate the size of the population ultimately remaining in the system, as the initial number of users, N, goes to infinity. We show that this decreases geometrically with the number of coupons, K. In particular, when the ratio K/log(N) is above a critical threshold, we prove that this number of left-overs is of order log(log(N)). These results suggest that performance of file swarming systems does not depend critically on either altruistic user behavior, or on load balancing strategies such as rarest first.