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Programming Models for Distributed Computation

Source repo for the book that I and my students in my course at Northeastern University, CS7680 Special Topics in Computing Systems: Programming Models for Distributed Computing, are writing on the topic of programming models for distributed systems.

This is a book about the programming constructs we use to build distributed systems. These range from the small, RPC, futures, actors, to the large; systems built up of these components like MapReduce and Spark. We explore issues and concerns central to distributed systems like consistency, availability, and fault tolerance, from the lens of the programming models and frameworks that the programmer uses to build these systems.

Please note that this is a work in progress, the book contents are in this repo, but we have not yet polished everything and published the final book online. Expected release: end of December

Note: the chapters can be viewed by manually going to, e.g., One we finish off the chapters that need the most work, we will "release" the book by putting a proper index page in place.

Note: we are currently in talks with a major publisher to publish this book as open-access textbook! Keep your fingers crossed!🤞


  1. RPC
  2. Futures & Promises
  3. Message-passing
  4. Distributed Programming Languages
  5. Languages Extended for Distribution
  6. CAP, Consistency, & CRDTs
  7. Programming Languages & Consistency
  8. Large-scale Parallel Batch Processing
  9. Large-scale Streaming

Editing this book


  1. Fork/clone
  2. Edit on your local branch
  3. Make a pull request to the master branch with your changes. Do not commit directly to the repository
  4. After merge, visit the live site

Note: We have CI that builds the book for each commit. Pull requests that don't build will not be merged.

Note: when PRs are merged, the site is built and redeployed automatically.


Chapters are located in the chapter folder of the root directory.


This site uses a Jekyll, a Ruby framework. You'll need Ruby and Bundler installed.

If you have Ruby already installed, to install Bundler, just do sudo gem install bundler

Building & Viewing

Please build and view your site locally before submitting a PR!

cd into the directory where you cloned this repository, then install the required gems with bundle install. This will automatically put the gems into ./vendor/bundle.

Start the server in the context of the bundle:

bundle exec jekyll serve

The generated site is available at http://localhost:4000

Note, this will bring you to the index page. If you'd like to see your chapter, make sure to navigate there explicitly, e.g., http://localhost:4000/chapter/1/rpc.html.

Adding/editing pages

Articles are in Markdown with straightforward YAML frontmatter.

You can include code, math (LaTeX syntax), figures, blockquotes, side notes, etc. You can also use regular BibTeX to make a bibliography. To see everything you can do, I've prepared an example article.

If you would like to add BibTeX entries to the bibliography for your chapter, check the _bibliography directory for a .bib file named after your chapter.

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