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Hot potatoes to combat nuclear Armageddon

“Each message is regarded as a ‘hot potato’, and the nodes are not wearing gloves. Rather than hold the ‘hot potato’ the node tosses the message to its neighbor, who will now try to get rid of the message.”

The paragraph above is describing aspects of the Hot Potato Algorithm, originally developed by (the late) Paul Baran at the RAND Corporation, 1962, and described in his paper : ‘On Distributed Communications Networks.’ The paper outlined the problems facing designers of digital communication networks who are faced with using links of “less than perfect reliability.” Very much less-than-perfect, in fact. The author takes as an example a system in which :

“…the form of the disturbance or noise is the simultaneous destruction of many geographically separated installations.”

[Think: recently vaporised in a full-scale nuclear war] The Hot Potato Algorithm, and its associated Hot Potato Routing techniques attempt to construct a “Way of providing survivability of complex networks in the Nuclear Age.” For other potato-based variants which grew from Paul Baran’s research,  see:

Randomized greedy hot potato routing

Hard potato routing

Baked potato routing

Cold potato routing (as compared to Hot) and

Mashed potato routing (Note: possibly less than 100% serious… note publication date, and author)


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