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Publish / subscribe is a well-known mechanism that allows entities interested in certain information (i.e., the subscribers) to receive relevant messages from some message generators (i.e., the publishers). The authors argue that for networked or distributed Virtual Environment (VE) applications, a Spatial Publish / Subscribe (SPS), where each entity can receive messages generated within a specified space in the VE, is a fundamental mechanism underlying various VE applications. It is therefore of importance for the VE community to understand the main characteristics and limitations of SPS. This paper describes the basic mechanism of SPS, and how it can be used to support existing VE requirements such as overlay management, state management, and content management.
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