Distributed Systems for practitioners
Distributed Systems for practitioners
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Distributed Systems for practitioners

Last updated on 2019-11-19

About the Book

Distributed systems are everywhere nowadays, from the chat applications we use to communicate with our friends to the online stores we use for our shopping. However, distributed systems are by nature complicated. In order to design and build a distributed system that will work properly, one has to understand a lot of different concepts and nuances and the literature of distributed systems can be quite big and chaotic at times.

This book makes an effort to collate the basic principles, algorithms and protocols in the field of distributed systems. It introduces the basic problems that are inherent in distributed systems, the main approaches to tackle them and any associated complications one needs to keep in mind. You will have the chance to get an overview of the seminal papers in the field, while also understanding how the associated algorithms and protocols can be used in real life. As implied by the title, the goal of this book is to maintain a practical perspective, by explaining algorithms in the simplest terms possible and demonstrating how implementations of them can be used in real systems.

Who is this book for

This book is aimed at software engineers that have some experience in building software systems and have no or some experience in distributed systems. It assumes no knowledge around concepts and algorithms for distributed systems. This book attempts to gradually introduce the terms and explain the basic algorithms in the simplest way possible, providing diagrams and examples. However, this book does not aim to make a full analysis of every single algorithm and provides the necessary references to the original papers, so that the reader can study in more depth the parts of interest.

Future changes

Following the lean publishing philosophy, this book is a work in progress and new content might be added from time to time, according to the needs and the feedback of the readers. As new content is added, the price of the book might go up, but whoever has already purchased the book will get the updates for free through Leanpub. For more details on how this works, follow the resources below:

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About the Author

Dimos Raptis
Dimos Raptis

Dimos is a software engineer with experience designing, building and operating large-scale, distributed systems. His first acquaintance with distributed systems was during his tenure at Amazon, while he's currently fortunate to have the opportunity of crafting software for one of the most widely used distributed ledger platforms, called Corda. He's the author of the book Distributed Systems for Practitioners, which aspires to explain the main concepts, protocols and algorithms around distributed systems in an easy and accessible way.

Table of Contents

Introduction

What is a distributed system and why we need it

The fallacies of distributed computing

Why distributed systems are hard

Correctness in distributed systems

System models

The tale of exactly-once semantics

Failure in the world of distributed systems

Stateful and Stateless systems

Basic concepts and theorems

Partitioning

Algorithms for horizontal partitioning

Replication

Single-master replication

Multi-master replication

Quorums in distributed systems

Safety guarantees in distributed systems

ACID transactions

The CAP Theorem

Consistency models

Isolation Levels

Consistency and Isolation - Differences and Similarities

Why all the formalities

Distributed Transactions

What is a distributed transaction

Achieving Isolation

2-phase locking

Snapshot Isolation via MVCC

Achieving atomicity

2-phase commit (2PC)

3-phase commit (3PC)

A quorum-based commit protocol

How it all fits together

Long-lived transactions & Sagas

Consensus

Defining consensus

Some use-cases of consensus

FLP impossibility

The Paxos algorithm

Intricacies of Paxos

Paxos in real-life

Replicated state machine via consensus

Distributed transactions via consensus

Raft

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Time

What is different in a distributed system

A practical perspective

A theoretical perspective

Logical clocks

Order

Total and partial ordering

The concept of causality

Lamport clocks

Vector clocks

Version vectors & Dotted version vectors

Physical & Logical time: closing thoughts

Case studies

Distributed file systems (HDFS/GFS)

Distributed coordination service (Zookeeper/Chubby/etcd)

Distributed datastores

BigTable/HBase

Cassandra

Spanner

FaunaDB

Distributed messaging system (Kafka)

Distributed cluster management (Kubernetes)

Distributed ledger (Corda)

Causes Supported

Code Club

https://www.codeclub.org.uk

A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites. Our volunteers go to their local club for an hour a week and teach one project a week. Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on. We’d like to put a Code Club in every single primary school in the country. There are over 21,000 primary schools in the UK, it’s a big task but we think we can do it!

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