Distributed Computing

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What Does Distributed Computing Mean?

Distributed computing refers to a computer science field that researches distributed systems. A distributed system includes various computers that connect and communicate by means of a computer network. The computers communicate with one another to accomplish a common goal.


Distributed computer systems include several software components that are installed in various computers but operate as an individual system. The computers operating in a distributed system can be physically close and connected using a local network. Or, they can be geographically distant and connected using a wide area network.

Techopedia Explains Distributed Computing

Distributed systems include various possible configurations, such as personal computers, mainframes, minicomputers, workstations, etc. A computer program that operates in a distributed system is known as a distributed program, whereas the procedure for writing such programs are called distributed programming.

Distributed systems provide several benefits compared to centralized systems. These include:

  • Scalability: The distributed system can be easily extended with the addition of more machines as required.
  • Redundancy: Many machines can offer the same services. Therefore, even if one machine is unavailable, the tasks are unaffected. In addition, due to the use of many smaller machines, this redundancy is relatively inexpensive.

Distributed computing systems could operate on hardware provided by multiple vendors. It can make use of many different standards-based software components. These systems are self-sufficient and do not rely too much on the fundamental software. They are able to use a variety of communications protocols as well as operate on multiple operating systems. In order to carry out inter-machine communications, they use TCP/IP or SNA on Ethernet or Token Ring.

Computers used in distributed computing make use of a client-server model.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.