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LOOKING UP DATA IN P2P SYSTEMS Hari Balakrishnan M Frans Kaashoek David Karger Robert Morris Ion Stoica MIT Laboratory for Computer Science 1 Introduction The recent success of some widely deployed peer to peer P2P file sharing applications has sparked new research in this area We are interested in the P2P systems that have no centralized control or hierarchical organization where the software running at each node is equivalent in functionality Because these completely decentralized systems have the potential to significantly change the way large scale distributed systems are built in the future it seems timely to review some of this recent research The main challenge in P2P computing is to design and implement a robust distributed system composed of inexpensive computers in unrelated administrative domains The participants in a typical P2P system might be home computers with cable modem or DSL links to the Internet as well as computers in enterprises Some current P2P systems have reported tens of thousands of simultaneously active participants with half a million participating machines over a week long period P2P systems are popular and interesting for a variety of reasons 1 The barriers to starting and growing such systems are low since they usually don t require any special administrative or financial arrangements unlike with centralized facilities 2 P2P systems suggest a way to aggregate and make use of the tremendous computation and storage resources that otherwise just sit idle on computers across the Internet when they are not in use 3 The decentralized and distributed nature of P2P systems gives them the potential to be robust to faults or intentional attacks making them ideal for long term storage as well as for lengthy computations P2P computing raises many interesting research problems in distributed systems In this short paper we will look at one of them the lookup problem How do you find any given data item in a large P2P system in a scalable manner

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