in Cloud, General, Internet, Internet of Things

Pointers for distributed vs decentralised:

Some bookmarks to read if you are a distributed systems researcher [1]

  • A decentralized system is a subset of a distributed system.
  • The primary difference is how/where the “decision” is made and how the information is shared throughout the control nodes in the system.
  • Decentralized means that there is no single point where the decision is made.
  • Every node makes a decision for it’s own behaviour and the resulting system behaviour is the aggregate response.
  • A key characteristic of decentral systems is that typically no single node will have complete system information.
  • “Distributed means that the processing is shared across multiple nodes, but the decisions may still be centralized and use complete system knowledge” says coinbase in their blog post
  • A scenario to think of:
    • Some control algorithms I’ve seen for multiple quad-copter control are purely distributed in that a central over-seer gives optimization problems to each copter to solve then return the solution.
    • The over-seer will then issue commands based on the aggregate result.
  • Here’s a philosophical question:
    • if the over-seer is “voted” into office by the nodes, is it decentralized or centralized?
    • I’d have to say decentralized, but it is arguable says MaRi Eagar
    • then I tend to ask what is distributed systems?

Keywords that matter

when you start the debate (here central systems are included): [2]

  • Points of Failure / Maintenance
  • Fault Tolerance / Stability
  • Scalability / Max Population
  • Ease of development / Creation
  • Evolution / Diversity


  1. What is the difference between decentralized and distributed systems?
  2. Centralized vs Decentralized vs Distributed

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