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Research in the area of peer-to-peer systems is mainly focused on structuring the overlay network. Little attention is paid to the process of setting up and joining a peer-to-peer overlay network, i.e. the bootstrapping of peer-to-peer networks. The major challenge is to get hold of one peer that is already in the overlay. Otherwise, the first peer must be able to detect that the overlay is currently empty. Successful P2P applications either provide a centralized server for this task (Skype) or they simply put the burden on the user (e-Mule). The authors propose an automatic solution which does not require any user intervention and does not exhibit a single point of failure.
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