Love of money can cause people to do unwise things—like stealing time on your university’s resident supercomputer to mine crypto-coins.

The Harvard Crimson is carrying the story of someone who did exactly that: an unnamed individual who was discovered using Harvard’s Odyssey supercomputing cluster to generate dogecoins.
“Wow,” you might say, amazed. Dogecoins are one of the multitude of roll-your-own cryptocurrencies that have lately sprouted like weeds in an unkempt vegetable garden. Like most of them, the code that powers Dogecoin’s blockchain and network is forked from Litecoin, which was originally billed as a lighter-weight alternative to Bitcoin. Dogecoin (and Litecoin and Coinye and many others) use the scrypt cryptographic algorithm to generate hashes and drive the currency along; media-darling Bitcoin, on the other hand, is based around a different algorithm (SHA256).

The currencies are all similar to each other, though they are (generally) incompatible and (typically) do not interoperate. (There are caveats, but cryptocurrencies are complex and I’m trying to keep this relatively short—check here for the full details on how and why cryptocurrencies work.)
It is not stated in the Crimson’s piece whether the individual caught mining Dogecoins was a student or a faculty member. However, according to Harvard Assistant Dean for Research Computing James A. Cuff, the person responsible has lost access to “any and all research computing facilities on a fully permanent basis.” Using university property—like the 4,096-core Odyssey supercomputing cluster—for profit or personal gain, or even any non-research tasks, is most definitely against the rules.

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