On Distributed Communications Networks

by Paul Baran

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A discussion of the problem of building digital communication networks using links with less than perfect reliability. The redundancy level used is defined as a measure of connectivity. The systems planner must choose that form of redundancy so that the form of the noise or interference appears to be somewhat statistically independent for each redundant element added. If this goal is completely met, there can be an exponential payoff for a linear increase of added elements. As an example, the paper examines the synthesis of a system in which the form of the disturbance or noise is the simultaneous destruction of many geographically separated installations. The system considered is a high-speed digital data transmission network composed of unreliable links, but which exhibits any arbitrarily desired level of systems reliability or survivability.

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