As in M-W, the term crowd is defined as "a large number of persons especially when collected together". In this regard, concept of crowdsourcing has been introduced in the scientific and research community. So, what is the equivalent term for the collection of (artificially or physically) machines? Specifically, how one could refer to process of outsourcing a task to a set of machines?
You may want to consider cluster (used mostly in computing).
Group of independent servers (usually in close proximity to one another) interconnected through a dedicated network to work as one centralized data processing resource. Clusters are capable of performing multiple complex instructions by distributing workload across all connected servers. Clustering improves the system's availability to users, its aggregate performance, and overall tolerance to faults and component failures. A failed server is automatically shut down and its users are switched instantly to the other servers.
A computer cluster consists of a set of loosely or tightly connected computers that work together so that, in many respects, they can be viewed as a single system.
What jumped to my mind when I read your question was the example of the SETI@home project:
- SETI@home homepage
- Wikipedia link, which is possibly better to get an understanding of the project, as the webpage is much less busy!
Google's synopsis of the homepage (I couldn't find the text on the site itself...) calls it "Currently the largest distributed computing effort with over 3 million users."
So, potentially "distributed computing effort" is what you're looking for... though it's a bit of a mouthful.
In 2000 Pande Lab launched Folding@Home.
Folding@home (FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics. The project uses the idle processing resources of thousands of personal computers owned by volunteers who have installed the software on their systems. (Wikipedia)
The term they use is "distributed computing". While this term predates the term (or at least its popularity, I need to verify the former) crowdsourcing, and does not follow the same construction, I believe it well matches the process you describe.
A group of machines such as autonomous UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or terrestrial robotic devices programmed to attack a target or otherwise act together in a cooperative way can be referred to as a swarm.
So, what is the equivalent term for the collection of (artificially or physically) machines?
This is called a server farm (server cluster is rarely used):
A server farm or server cluster is a collection of computer servers - usually maintained by an organization to supply server functionality far beyond the capability of a single machine. Server farms often consist of thousands of computers which require a large amount of power to run and to keep cool.
Server farms are what run the applications that enable most of your hosted applications (such as the stackengine network; gmail, etc.).
A cluster is similar in concept, except a cluster is designed to run one specific program, across a large set of loosely connected machines. It is different than a server farm in that a server farm may run many different applications on the same set of hardware.
Distributed computing is an adjective that describes tasks that are run over remote machines; which are often clusters (as is the case with SETI@home).
Specifically, how one could refer to process of outsourcing a task to a set of machines?
In computer science specifically, tasks are offloaded onto remote computing resources:
In computer science, computation offloading refers to the transfer of certain computing tasks to an external platform, such as a cluster, grid, or a cloud.
(Definitions taken from Wikipedia)
Array might work. The American Heritage Dictionary Fifth Edition defines it as meaning:
- An impressively large number, as of persons or objects: an array of heavily armed troops; an array of spare parts.
It is is true that it refers mostly to placing the machines in a particular position, but it can be used in other situations. Consider this example appearing on macmillandictionary.com:
If the machines are all giving input that will be used to arrive to a solution (analogous to swarm intelligence), consider the term ensemble.
In machine learning an ensemble is a group of classifiers that contribute to a single proposed answer - which seems to be what the question is referring to.
A collection of computers designed to work together by exchanging information is often called a network (or computer network). Unfortunately, the equipment that is used to connect them together is also called a network (sometimes distinguished by the phrase "the network").
Also, consider hive mind from sci-fi culture
Engine-driven machinery in large quantities can be referred to as a fleet. The DoD does so with aircraft, AGE/GSE, vehicles, and any metalworking machinery.
Assuming the machines don't get to choose which work to accept, I'd say we
- assign the work to those machines,
- queue the work on them, or
- task them with the work.
The lingo surrounding AWS instances, Azure, and similar cloud computing platforms may also be enlightening. I'm not, at present, well versed in that jargon myself.
protected by user140086 Oct 27 '16 at 13:52
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