“Paper” Review: Distributed systems for fun and profit

Book link: Distributed systems for fun and profit

OK, I will admit it, this is not a paper. I think the best description for it is a mini-textbook on distributed systems.

Over the course of five chapters this book goes over most of the major concepts in distributed systems, including synchronous v.s. asynchronous systems, vector clocks, the CAP theorem, detecting failures, and consensus algorithms. While the book doesn’t go in depth into any one of these topics, it helps lay a fantastic foundation on which you can build upon by reading books and papers (more on this in a bit) on distributed systems and related concepts. If your goal is to understand at a high level what systems like Kafka, Cassandra, or MongoDB do and why they are designed the way they are this book is for you. It will make terms like “eventual consistency” and “quorums” make sense when you read documentation for these systems and will help you design your applications better as well.

I think my favorite aspect about this book is that it introduces readers to newer distributed systems concepts like the CALM theorem, RAFT, CRDTs etc.

Another thing that I loved was that each chapter (and the Appendix) also has links to papers and other resources that go more in depth for each concept presented.

Overall, I would highly recommend reading this. If you’re new to distributed systems this book will help you get started. If you live and breathe distributed systems then this is a good resource to have on hand to brush up/look up topics quickly. And it has such pretty diagrams!

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