Readings in distributed systems

12 Jul 2013

This post is a work in progress.

Inspired by a recent purchase of the Red Book, which provides a curated list of important papers around database systems, I’ve decided to begin assembling a list of important papers in distributed systems. Similar to the Red Book, I’ve broken each group of papers out into a series of categories, each highlighting a progression of related ideas over time focused in a specific area of research within the field.

Keeping the tradition of the Red Book, I’ve included both papers which resulted in very successful systems and/or techniques, as well as papers which introduced a concept which was either immediately dismissed or proven incorrect. This emphasizes the progression of ideas which lead to the development of these systems.


The problems of establishing consensus in a distributed system.


Types of consistency, and practical solutions to solving ensuring atomic operations across a set of replicas.

Conflict-free data structures

Studies on data structures which do not require coordination to ensure convergence to the correct value.

Distributed programming

Languages aimed towards disorderly distributed programming as well as case studies on problems in distributed programming.


Implemented and theoretical distributed systems.


Overviews and details covering many of the above papers and concepts compiled into single resources.

I’m hoping to make this into a living document, so please submit pull requests or leave comments!