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Peer-to-peer (P2P) computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or work loads between peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the application. They are said to form a peer-to-peer network of nodes.

Peers make a portion of their resources, such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth, directly available to other network participants, without the need for central coordination by servers or stable hosts.[1] Peers are both suppliers and consumers of resources, in contrast to the traditional client–server model where only servers supply, and clients consume.

The peer-to-peer application structure was popularized by file sharing systems like Napster. The peer-to-peer computing paradigm has inspired new structures and philosophies in other areas of human interaction. In such social contexts, peer-to-peer as a meme refers to the egalitarian social networking that is currently emerging throughout society, enabled by Internet technologies in general.


Architecture of P2P systems

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