Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

Decentralized vs Distributed


A distributed system is about spreading an arbitrary property across several actors. Often, people think about spreading some workload across non co-located nodes, making the whole system act like one. To be clearer, one should precise what property is actually distributed (like location distributed and workload distributed).

A decentralized system is about spreading the control across several actors. In that sense, a decentralized system is a decision distributed system.

Attention with the possible naming confusion with distributed control system, which is actually an example of decentralized system, hence a “control distributed” system. But here it is to be read “distributed (control system)” instead of “(distributed control) system” because it refers to the notion of control system.


“decentralized” mostly about decision making, control, and who is in charge.


“distributed” with the location: Where is something stored/computed/done, how do we make latency low, create services which can deal with natural disasters. — https://medium.com/plain-and-simple/decentralized-vs-distributed-1638c09f14e8

decentralized system has no single element that takes a decision. The decision is taken across more than one person or organization — https://medium.com/plain-and-simple/decentralized-vs-distributed-1638c09f14e8

distributed system is computing/storing things across more than one machine or data center.


Decentralised means that a decision is made across various nodes. Each node decides its behaviour, which ultimately affects the system’s behaviour. This ensures that no single node has complete system information. — https://zipmex.com/learn/distributed-vs-decentralized/

distributed system, all parts of the system are located in different physical locations. The processing is spread across multiple nodes, but decision making can be centralised or decentralised. Various nodes can communicate and coordinate by passing messages. — https://zipmex.com/learn/distributed-vs-decentralized/

Centralization and decentralization refer to levels of control. — https://medium.com/nakamo-to/whats-the-difference-between-decentralized-and-distributed-1b8de5e7f5a4

Distribution refers to differences of location. — https://medium.com/nakamo-to/whats-the-difference-between-decentralized-and-distributed-1b8de5e7f5a4

decentralized systems, every node makes its own decision — https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/comparison-centralized-decentralized-and-distributed-systems/

The final behavior of the system is the aggregate of the decisions of the individual nodes. Note that there is no single entity that receives and responds to the request. — https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/comparison-centralized-decentralized-and-distributed-systems/

decentralized systems, every node makes its own decision. The final behaviour of the system is the aggregate of the decisions of the individual nodes. Note that there is no single entity that receives and responds to the request. — https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/comparison-centralized-decentralized-and-distributed-systems/

Decentralization may have become a corporate cool factor associated with innovativeness or nimbleness; however, it remains unclear what decentralization really entails as a design feature of organizations. — https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2631787720977052

managers enable the delegation of authority, they appear to support decentralization. On the other hand, since managers belong to an inverted tree-shaped hierarchy of authority, wherein the manager at the top (i.e. the CEO) is positioned to reverse decisions made elsewhere in the organization, they perpetuate a centralized form of organizing – only on a larger scale – and ‘leave untouched the cumulation of ultimate responsibility — https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2631787720977052

paradoxically, managers seem to nurture organizations’ decentralization but without relieving centralization pressure — https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2631787720977052

poor understanding of decentralization fuels the risk of such dystopian oligopoly formation — https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2631787720977052

discern decentralization, defined as the dispersion of coordinated communications within organizations, from distribution, defined as the dispersion of organizational decision-making — https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2631787720977052

Dictionaries define decentralization as the ‘distribution of powers’, thereby introducing a confusing equivalence between decentralization and distribution


Figure 1. Baran’s typology of communication networks.

Source: Baran, 1964, p. 2.


Baran differentiated networks based on the number of nodes that needed to fail to break down communications – ranging from a single node in centralized networks, to a few in decentralized networks, and a majority in distributed networks


in much of the blockchain discourse, “distributed” is used to mean “somewhat non-centralized”, while “decentralized” means “no center”, i.e. what Baran called “distributed”’ — https://journals.sagepub.com/action/showPopup?citid=citart1&id=fn1-2631787720977052&doi=10.1177/2631787720977052

Vitalik Buterin, a leading blockchain expert, noted that an influential industry website shows ‘a very similar diagram [to Baran’s], but the words “decentralized” and “distributed” switched places



Notes linking here