A distributed system is a collection of independent entities that cooperate to solve a problem that cannot be individually solved.

Distributed systems have been in existence for millions of years. From a school of fish and a flock of birds to entire ecosystems of microorganisms, there is communication among intelligent agents in nature.

While centralized systems can be developed without considering the social fabric in which they will be implemented, this is impossible when the technological solution in question is a distributed one. Being localized, small, connected and open, these promising social innovations actively contribute to the realization of resilient, distributed socio-technical systems. (Manzini 2017)

See distributed computing.

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