Difference between Distribution and Decentralization


I basically see 3 terms,

  1. Distribution
  2. Decentralization
  3. Mesh (which I atleast thought was Distribution and Decentralization together)

But pretty recently I am coming to a conclusion that my understanding of all the 3 words are possibly wrong. Can someone Demystify these 3 terms ?


Let me put down my understanding so other people could correct it if wrong. The difference between distribution and decentralization is autonomy.

A distributed system should have a central command and control. In that there would be one or a few masters and lots of slaves. Masters could delegate work to slaves or could be the central point of contact for external agencies. If the master goes down, either the system goes down or the rest of the slaves elect a new master based on certain predefined criteria. Git is an example of a distributed system. Certain monarchies with provincial territories are examples of a distributed system. Tribes are examples for distributed system. It can be visualized as a tree of nodes.

A decentralized system is where each node has complete autonomy over itself. There is no single command and control node or a master. A bunch of nodes subscribe to an arbitrary bunch of peer nodes. For a decentralized system to fail, ALL to all but one of the nodes should fail or unsubscribe. Examples are federated networks like diaspora if each pod is taken to be a node. It can be visualized as web of arbitrarily connected nodes.

A mesh to me seems like a decentralized system.



  1. Centralization - Total flow of control and decisions are made at the top notch of the pyramid. No decisive powers, are spread down. Action and Responsibility are totally at the center point. Only jobs are given to the bottom layers (can be either managerial or technical).
    Vulnerable to attack easily. So always banks to obscurity, offensive systems, black boxing, virtual living beings to immunize from logical attacks too !.
    :european_castle: :japanese_castle: :church:

Ex: Think about Dictatorship, Scientology (correct me here if am wrong :smile: ).

  1. Decentralization - can still retain hierarchical structure. At least 2 layers are possible.
    If service decides/dominates flow of control, tracking, sharing etc then vulnerable to attacks. It means still equality is not practiced and power is concentrated at top layer.
    If data/content sources/sink decides flow of control, tracking, sharing then, practically with numbers not possible to attack.
    Power is spread to the bottom layer. Checks, Balances, Regulation plays a major role for stability.
    It is like Schrodingers cat… :laughing: :cat2:
    :love_hotel: :hospital: :bank: :school:

Ex : Representative Democracy & Governance.
One can observe dynamics of power, justice, information, transparency, asymmetries. Constant struggle is always guaranteed :wink: They all speak about balance and living with change but always worry about stability and constancy.

  1. Distribution - regardless of structure and architecture, control flow, it is about sharing stuff. This happens when something is so huge requires more resources to pull the load, where task is shared equally. Now the mechanism to share the task can be collaboratively decided, centrally decided or decided with representation (decentral).

Ex : one can observe distributed computing, distributed control systems, distributed embedded systems…

  1. Mesh - it is a infrastructure, topology model. One it does not guarantee grass roots distributed implementation. There are cases where with improper implementation and improper auditing it has gone wrong.
    It defines the structure. - precisely no particular structure, and continually evolves.
    It can have either decentralized or distributed architecture. However ideally distributed arch. Along with a mesh infrastructure makes the system resilient to attacks.
    Ideally it must be like SVG, no matter how deep you explore a mesh network it always have mesh of meshes recursively. Got that ??

Ex: one can observe swarming systems in birds, honeybees, insects, etc.
Execution of Mutual understanding (constitution) Social auditing is vital here to maintain the systems principles.

One might ask !!! :rage: :confused:

What about GNUnet, Torrent, PGP, Zeronet, Retroshare etc??
Learn the protocol, learn the politics involved (WHY ? to learn the mechanism & policy). Then decide for urself. :sunglasses:

I know understanding these things might be confusing, because they are overlappy. I too have raised questions to the community just before this discussion - expecting such discussion would happen then.

Thanks for @ramaseshan for bringing this up as serious topic of deliberation.

For better understanding one can read : Graph Theory, Cybernetics, Social theories too… !

One can do interesting things… upon this thinking: (which i have done some time earlier… i will share it asap).
compare and contrast the technologies, tools, systems one so far come across and tabulate their properties based on its network structure, architecture, etc…