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Principles of Concurrent and Distributed Programming, Second Edition by M. Ben-Ari

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Chapter 11. Global Properties

Almost by definition, there is no meaning to a global property of a distributed system. There is a parallel with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity: since information takes a finite amount of time to travel from one node to another, by the time you collect information on the global state of a system in a single node, it is “out of date.” As with relativity, even the concept of time is problematic, and a central problem in the field of distributed systems is that of defining time and synchronizing clocks ([37], [48, Chapter 18]).

In this chapter, we present algorithms for two problems that can be characterized as detecting and recording global properties of distributed systems. The central concept is not simultaneity ...

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