Simple Efficient Load Balancing Algorithms for Peer-to-Peer Systems

David R. Karger and Matthias Ruhl

ACM Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures (SPAA '04)
Barcelona, June 2004

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Load balancing is a critical issue for the efficient operation of peer-to-peer networks. We give two new load-balancing protocols whose provable performance guarantees are within a constant factor of optimal. Our protocols refine the consistent hashing data structure that underlies the Chord (and Koorde) P2P network. Both preserve Chord's logarithmic query time and near-optimal data migration cost.

Consistent hashing is an instance of the distributed hash table (DHT) paradigm for assigning items to nodes in a peer-to-peer system: items and nodes are mapped to a common address space, and nodes have to store all items residing closeby in the address space.

Our first protocol balances the distribution of the key address space to nodes, which yields a load-balanced system when the DHT maps items ``randomly'' into the address space. To our knowledge, this yields the first P2P scheme simultaneously achieving O(log n) degree, O(log n) look-up cost, and constant-factor load balance (previous schemes settled for any two of the three).

Our second protocol aims to directly balance the distribution of items among the nodes. This is useful when the distribution of items in the address space cannot be randomized. We give a simple protocol that balances load by moving nodes to arbitrary locations "where they are needed." As an application, we use the last protocol to give an optimal implementation of a distributed data structure for range searches on ordered data.

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