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Arslan Ahmad

Ace Your System Design Interview with 7 Must-Read Papers in 2023

This post presents top 7 must-read research papers to help you understand the key concepts of system design and prepare for your interview.
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Ace your system design interview with 7 must-read papers.

Learning System Design in 2023 This post presents top 7 must-read research papers to help you understand the key concepts of system design and prepare for your interview.

From basic distributed systems to the latest industry trends, these papers cover it all. Whether you're new to system design or a pro, these papers will give you the knowledge and skills you need to excel in your interview and career.

Let's get started.

1. The Google File System (GFS)

The Google File System (GFS) is a distributed file system developed by Google to store and manage large amounts of data across a cluster of machines.

This paper describes the design and implementation of GFS. GFS is designed to be highly available, scalable, and fault-tolerant. It addresses the challenges of storing and processing large amounts of data with a relatively small number of machines.

GFS is based on a master-slave architecture where a single master coordinates all access to the file system and multiple ChunkServers store the data. The system is optimized for the high-throughput, low-latency workloads that are typical of Google's applications, such as Google Search and Google Maps.

Architecture and System Design, or Paper

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2. Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data

This paper describes the design and implementation of Bigtable, a distributed storage system used by Google to store and manage large amounts of structured data such as web pages, images, and other types of data. The paper describes how Bigtable was built to overcome the limitations of traditional relational databases and how it is optimized for high write throughput, low latency, and scalability.

Bigtable uses a highly partitioned, distributed, and persistent multi-dimensional sorted map. The data is partitioned into tablets and each tablet is stored on a different machine. The paper describes the design choices that were made to achieve high performance, scalability, and reliability, including data partitioning, replication, and performance optimization. The paper also describes how Bigtable can be used to build other systems like Google's search engine and Google Earth.

Architecture and System Design, or Paper

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3. Dynamo: Amazon’s Highly Available Key-value Store

This paper describes the design and implementation of Dynamo, a highly available key-value storage system used by Amazon to provide low-latency data access for its e-commerce platform. The paper describes how Dynamo was built to overcome the limitations of traditional centralized systems and how it is optimized for high write throughput, low latency, and scalability.

Dynamo uses a distributed hash table (DHT) to partition data across a set of nodes. Each node is responsible for a subset of the data and can handle read and write requests for that data. The paper describes the design choices that were made to achieve high performance, scalability, and reliability, including data partitioning, replication, and performance optimization. The system also has a mechanism for handling node failures, which ensures that data is still available even in the event of a node failure.

Architecture and System Design, or Paper

4. Cassandra - A Decentralized Structured Storage System

This paper describes the design and implementation of Cassandra, a decentralized structured storage system used by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix. It covers key concepts such as data partitioning, replication, and performance optimization.

Architecture and System Design

5. The Chubby Lock Service for Loosely-Coupled Distributed Systems

This paper describes the design and implementation of Chubby, a highly available, distributed lock service used by Google to provide coordination between loosely-coupled distributed systems. The paper explains how

Chubby provides a simple, highly available, and low-latency mechanism for distributed systems to coordinate access to shared resources, such as configuration data and service-level agreements. Chubby uses a master-slave architecture where a single master coordinates all access to the lock service and multiple replicas store the data. The system is designed to be fault-tolerant and provides a mechanism for handling master failures and replica failures, which ensures that the service is still available even in the event of a failure.

This paper is considered a seminal work in the field of distributed systems, and it's a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how to design and build highly available and fault-tolerant distributed systems. The concepts and principles presented in this paper have been widely adopted and influenced many other systems like ZooKeeper, etcd and etc.

Architecture and System Design, or Paper

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6. HDFS: Hadoop Distributed File System

HDFS is a distributed file system and was built to store unstructured data. It is designed to store huge files reliably and stream those files at high bandwidth to user applications.

Architecture and System Design, or Paper

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7. The Log: What every software engineer should know about real-time data's unifying abstraction

This paper discusses the importance of log data structure and its role in real-time data processing. The paper argues that logs provide a simple, unified abstraction for dealing with data that can be used to build fault-tolerant, scalable systems and it's a must-read for anyone interested in distributed systems and real-time data processing.

Architecture and System Design

Conclusion

➡ These research papers provide a comprehensive understanding of the key concepts and principles of system design, as well as practical tips for approaching problems and staying current with industry trends. By reading and understanding these papers, you will be well-prepared for your system design interview and have the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in your career.

➡ Learn more on system design interview in Grokking the System Design Interview and Grokking the Advanced System Design Interview.

Read more on system design interview.
[1] System Design Interviews: What distinguishes you from others?
[2] Top LeetCode Patterns for FAANG Coding Interviews
[3] The Complete Guide to Ace the System Design Interview

System Design Fundamentals
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