Paxos for System Builders: An Overview

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Executive Summary

State Machine Replication (SMR) is a well-known technique for building distributed services requiring high performance and high availability. The Paxos protocol, developed by Leslie Lamport, is perhaps the most widely-known SMR protocol and has received a great deal of attention in the literature. Although Paxos was known in the 1980s to some and published in 1998, it is difficult to understand how the protocol works from the original specification. Further, the original specification had a theoretical flavor and omitted many important practical details, including how failures are detected and what type of leader election algorithm is used.

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