Distributed Universal Constructions: a Guided Tour

Michel Raynal, The Distributed Computing Column by Stefan Schmid


The notion of a universal construction is central in computing science:
the wheel has not to be reinvented for each new problem. In the context of
n-process asynchronous distributed systems, a universal construction is an
algorithm that is able to build any object defined by a sequential specification
despite the occurrence of up to (n − 1) process crash failures. The aim
of this paper is to present a guided tour of such universal constructions. Its
spirit is not to be a catalog of the numerous constructions proposed so far,
but a (as simple as possible) presentation of the basic concepts and mechanisms
that constitute the basis these constructions rest on.

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