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Efficient, Self-Contained Handling of Identity in Peer-to-Peer Systems
July 2004 (vol. 16 no. 7)
pp. 858-869

Abstract—Identification is an essential building block for many services in distributed information systems. The quality and purpose of identification may differ, but the basic underlying problem is always to bind a set of attributes to an identifier in a unique and deterministic way. Name/directory services, such as DNS, X.500, or UDDI, are a well-established concept to address this problem in distributed information systems. However, none of these services addresses the specific requirements of peer-to-peer systems with respect to dynamism, decentralization, and maintenance. We propose the implementation of directories using a structured peer-to-peer overlay network and apply this approach to support self-contained maintenance of routing tables with dynamic IP addresses in structured P2P systems. Thus, we can keep routing tables intact without affecting the organization of the overlay networks, making it logically independent of the underlying network infrastructure. Even though the directory is self-referential, since it uses its own service to maintain itself, we show that it is robust due to a self-healing capability. For security, we apply a combination of PGP-like public key distribution and a quorum-based query scheme. We describe the algorithm as implemented in the P-Grid P2P lookup system ( and give a detailed analysis and simulation results demonstrating the efficiency and robustness of our approach.

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Index Terms:
Peer-to-peer systems, identity handling, self-maintaining, decentralized directory service, distributed hash tables, dynamic resilience.
Karl Aberer, Anwitaman Datta, Manfred Hauswirth, "Efficient, Self-Contained Handling of Identity in Peer-to-Peer Systems," IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, vol. 16, no. 7, pp. 858-869, July 2004, doi:10.1109/TKDE.2004.1318567
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