Looking for a Definition of Dynamic Distributed Systems
This paper is a position paper on the nature of dynamic systems. While there is an agreement on the definition of what a static distributed system is, there is no agreed definition on what a dynamic distributed system is. This paper is a first step in that direction. To that end, it emphasizes two orthogonal dimensions that are present in any dynamic distributed system, namely the varying and possibly very large number of entities that currently define the system, and the fact that each of these entities knows only a few other entities (its neighbors) and possibly will never be able to know the whole system it is a member of. To illustrate the kind of issues one has to cope with in dynamic systems, the paper considers, as a “canonical” problem, a simple data aggregation problem. It shows the type of dynamic systems in which that problem can be solved and the ones in which it cannot be solved. The aim of the paper is to give the reader an idea of the subtleties and difficulties encountered when one wants to understand the nature of dynamic distributed systems.
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