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Chapter 16. Distributed IPC > Special characteristics of distributed systems

16.2. Special characteristics of distributed systems

In Section 7.5 we discussed the fundamental properties of distributed computations: concurrent execution of their components, independent failure modes, lack of global time and inconsistent state. The issue of main concern in this chapter is that a component of a distributed computation may fail while other components continue to run, or a component may be unreachable because of a connection failure. In a centralized implementation the whole system fails together.

In a distributed system a process on one node may invoke an operation on another which, in turn, may invoke an operation on a third node, as shown in Figure 16.2. Any one of these nodes may crash independently of the others at any stage in the invocations. Also, the network connections between the nodes may fail while the nodes continue to run. When programming distributed software it is therefore necessary to allow for the fact that a call to a remote system may never return, if the system or connection has failed, or may take a long time if the system or connection is congested.


  

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