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Give and ye shall receive!

SCIENCE HERO:
BRAM COHEN
by Chris from Fredericksburg

Bram Cohen (http://www.bittorrent.com/)
My hero to me is someone who is smart and works for the good of the community. Bram Cohen, currently 30 years old, fits this description perfectly. He is an extremely smart man and great with logic puzzles.

Cohen has Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism that gives him great concentration. In the 1990ís he began working for several companies. For reasons not caused by him, they all went bankrupt but the last one he had worked for, MojoNation, left him with an idea for a piece of software. MojoNation was a piece of software that allowed people to break up confidential files into encrypted chunks and distribute those pieces on computers also running the software. If someone wanted to download a copy of this encrypted file, he would have to download it simultaneously off of many computers. In April 2001 he quit MojoNation and began work on his own piece of software called, BitTorrent.

Traditonal Downloading (http://www.bittorrent.com/)
He figured out how to speed downloading by having many users trade bits of a file at the same time instead of the traditional method where a user downloads all of a file from a person or server and then another person waiting in line can and so on. Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) set limits on your internet upload and download speeds. Usually the download limit is fairly high but the upload limit is very low. This creates a bottleneck in file sharing because the downloaders can only download at the uploaders max uploading speed. Another problem was that if the file you were downloading was from a server than the serverís owner would have larger bandwidth bills after several people had downloaded large files from their server. This was all revolutionized by the BitTorrent Protocol. The program is designed so that you upload as fast as you can to other people. While doing this you are downloading from many people the parts that they are uploading. If several people have the complete file then they will only be uploading and help the file to distribute faster.

Torrent Downloading (http://www.bittorrent.com/)
Users can allow the file to seed, which is upload to others when you are not downloading, once the download is complete which is a great help to getting files to others. That is why one of Cohenís favorite quotes is "Give and ye shall receive!"

Companies around the world use BitTorrent to distribute media content and software packages. Linux users love BitTorrent a lot because it allows them to swap their enormous open-source programs easily to lots of people. Cohen created BitTorrent for the good of the community. He made it so that people would not have enormous bandwidth bills for their server and so that people would swap large files easily. He then furthered his help to the community by making it Open-Source so that other programmers could view his code and create ideas of their own. Open-Source moves technology forward by allowing people to use otherís ideas.

Cohen does not make much money because he writes BitTorrent for the community, not to make a lot of money. He and his family live off of donations by BitTorrent users. The software industry would be a lot better if everyone wrote their programs as Open-Source programs. People at CacheLogic, an Internet-traffic analysis group, report that BitTorrent traffic accounts for more than one-third of all data sent across the Internet. This shows how great Cohen and his software are. Recently he was listed in the top 100 of today's most influential people throughout the planet in TIME magazine. He is currently working on the BitTorrent 2 protocol.

In conclusion, Bram Cohen is a programming genius that I look up to. I hope that one day I will have an idea like him and be able to revolutionize the computer world. These revolutions do not come around everyday, but when they do they are well appreciated.


Written by Chris from Fredericksburg
Last changed on: 8/29/2011

BitTorrent - This is the BitTorret homepage.

Wikipedia.org - Detailed article on Bram Cohen.

Wired.com - Great article about Bram Cohen.

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