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Network Algorithmics by George Varghese

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Chapter 15

Routers as Distributed Systems

Come now and let us reason together.

— ISAIAH 1:18, THE BIBLE

Distributed systems are clearly evil things. They are subject to a lack of synchrony, a lack of assurance, and a lack of trust. Thus in a distributed system the time to receive messages can vary widely; messages can be lost and servers can crash; and when a message does arrive it could even contain a virus. In Lamport’s well-known words a distributed system is “one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable.”

Of course, the main reason to use a distributed system is that people are distributed. It would perhaps be unreasonable to pack every computer on the Internet into an efficiency apartment ...

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