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Intrinsic References in Distributed Systems

Eshghi, Kave

HPL-2002-32

Keyword(s): distributed; storage; hash; function

Abstract: The notion of intrinsic references, i.e.references based on the hash digest of the referent, is introduced and contrasted with that of physical references, where the referent is defined relative to the state of a physical system. A retrieval mechanism using intrinsic references, the Elephant Store, is presented. The use of intrinsic references in hierarchical data structures is discussed, and the advantages regarding version management, consistency and distributed storage are argued. Since intrinsic references are immutable, it is not possible to manage change by modifying the referent. A mechanism for handling change, the variable store, is described. Alternative architectures for a number of applications, including a file system and an email system, are discussed.

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