Distributed Computing

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 121–163

Hundreds of impossibility results for distributed computing

Special Issue

DOI: 10.1007/s00446-003-0091-y

Cite this article as:
Fich, F. & Ruppert, E. Distrib. Comput. (2003) 16: 121. doi:10.1007/s00446-003-0091-y


We survey results from distributed computing that show tasks to be impossible, either outright or within given resource bounds, in various models. The parameters of the models considered include synchrony, fault-tolerance, different communication media, and randomization. The resource bounds refer to time, space and message complexity. These results are useful in understanding the inherent difficulty of individual problems and in studying the power of different models of distributed computing. There is a strong emphasis in our presentation on explaining the wide variety of techniques that are used to obtain the results described.


Distributed computingImpossibility resultsComplexity lower bounds

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceYork UniversityTorontoCanada