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Reaching distributed consensus

2 min read

Hallo ihr lieben,

this weeks paper came to me trough a reply to the Bitcoin paper in the Telegram group. One member did point out that Bitcoin is one of the first widely used technologies solving the byzantine generals problem. As I did not know about that term I did research on it and found the original paper about it quite insightful and wanted to share it with you. Apart from the content the paper reads a bit like Sun Tzus The art of war as the examples talk about generals and lieutenants organizing an attack. That writing style made my day 😀 The byzantine generals problem discusses how to find consensus in a distributed system with malicious actors (or how to find a consensus for attacking an enemy…choose what paradigm fits your day to day best :’D)


Reliable computer systems must handle malfunctioning components that give conflicting information to different parts of the system. This situation can be expressed abstractly in terms of a group of generals of the Byzantine army camped with their troops around an enemy city. Communicating only by messenger, the generals must agree upon a common battle plan. However, one or more of them may be traitors who will try to confuse the others. The problem is to find an algorithm to ensure that the loyal generals will reach agreement. It is shown that, using only oral messages, this problem is solvable if and only if more than two-thirds of the generals are loyal; so a single traitor can confound two loyal generals. With unforgeable written messages, the problem is solvable for any number of generals and possible traitors. Applications of the solutions to reliable computer systems are then discussed

Download Link:

It would be awesome if you could help growing our little paper community even more by sharing it with your circles (you can also @eu_frey me on Twitter for retweets :D):

If you have any paper recommendation for me, please do not hesitate to approach me via pa[email protected] (Please keep the Backend & DevOps topic focus in mind)

With much love,
Simon Frey