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What are distributed systems and how do they work?

by SuperiorInvest

For distributed systems to work, a job must be broken down into smaller sub-jobs and spread across several nodes or computers in a network. These nodes or computers then communicate and work together to complete the task.

The following four steps provide a brief overview of how distributed systems work:

Decentralized components

A distributed system consists of many parts or nodes located in different real or virtual locations. These parts can communicate with each other over a network to achieve a single goal.


Components of a distributed system can communicate with each other using a variety of protocols and tools, including TCP/IP, HTTP, or message queues. These protocols allow nodes to communicate by sending and receiving messages or data.


For the parts of a distributed system to work well together, they must coordinate their actions. Several mechanisms can be used to achieve this coordination, such as distributed algorithms, consensus protocols, or distributed transactions.

Fault tolerance

A distributed system should be built with fault tolerance in mind. That is, it should be able to handle the failure of specific parts or nodes without degrading the performance or availability of the entire system. Distributed systems use redundancy, replication, or partitioning strategies to achieve fault tolerance.

An online search engine is an example of a distributed system because it contains a number of nodes that perform various functions, including crawling web pages, indexing content, and processing user requests. These nodes work together to provide users with fast and efficient search results.

Blockchain — decentralized ledger which records transactions securely and transparently — is also an example of a distributed system. It is distributed because the ledger is stored on multiple nodes in the network, with each node containing a copy of the entire ledger, allowing for greater transparency, security, and resistance to failure or attack.

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