• Category
  • >Information Technology

A Gentle Introduction to Gossip Protocol

  • Bhumika Dutta
  • Jun 05, 2022
A Gentle Introduction to Gossip Protocol title banner

Each node in a cluster of nodes must send metadata information to all other nodes in the cluster without relying on common storage. If all servers in a big cluster communicate with each other, much network bandwidth might be utilized. Even if some network links are down, information should reach all nodes.


You have knowledge difficulties while designing a system on top of a collection of highly unfriendly and unruly computers: recognizing when other nodes are dead and knowing when nodes become alive. Learning about new configuration data, deciding on data values, and so on.


This is when Gossip Protocols come into play.


What is gossip protocol?


The Gossip Protocol is a computer-to-computer communication protocol that works on the same idea as to how information is disseminated on social media sites. Most current systems use this peer-to-peer protocol to distribute information to all members of a network or cluster.


In the context of computer science, the gossip protocol refers to a type of communication that occurs when data is sent between computer nodes that are connected via a dispersed network. 


A gossip protocol communication occurs when information is sent from one computer to another until it is finally distributed over the network, as the name implies. There are currently several Gossip protocol variants that can be used in various scenarios depending on the needs of the user or organization.


Because it disseminates or transmits data in the same manner as an epidemic spreads a virus in a biological ecosystem, the gossip protocol is dubbed Epidemic Protocol.


The origin of the gossip protocol:


The origins of this technique may be traced back to Demers Alan, Greene Dan, Hauser Carl, Irish Wes, Larson John, Shenker Scott, Sturgis Howard, Swinehart Danm, and Terry Doug's work on epidemic replication algorithms. In 1987, he published "Epidemic Algorithms for Replicated Database Maintenance."


The propagation of the pandemic has sparked a lot of interest in computers since the publication of this report. This is because its operating system is ideal for big networks with a high degree of decentralization. The first practical applications of Gossip-type protocols may be found in the routing systems of the original networks, which served as the forerunner to the Internet we know today.


There are three main types of gossip protocol:


  1. Dissemination Protocols / Broadcast protocol:


Information dissemination or propagation protocols are those that distribute messages via group or multicast communication. The peer network nodes are always in continual contact in the first example, under group communication. 


As a result, the data may be delivered to the network in a timely and reliable manner. Although it is possible that by the time information is disseminated, it has already altered and is slightly obsolete. However, this is neither a cause for alarm nor an issue for the network in general.


The information is occasionally disseminated throughout the peer network in the second situation, which is known as multicasting. As a result, an incident does not instantly cause knowledge to propagate. Due to the period that elapses between the creation of the information and its dissemination via the network, the latency of the information might be a worry in this scenario.



  1. Anti-Entropy Protocols:


These are used to compare and alter the comparisons to fix the duplicated data.


  1. Aggregation Protocols:


The peer network nodes receive and process information through aggregation protocols, then deliver a summary of that information to the other nodes linked to the network. This data dissemination method maintains track of all processed information. Distributed data mining is a term that is commonly used in distributed ledger technology.


Also Read | 5 Major Types of Blockchain Protocols


Working of the Gossip Protocol:


The Gossip protocols are relatively straightforward. This is because they are built on a very fundamental notion for disseminating and propagating data over a network. In these protocols, a node can only distribute information if it is randomly paired with other nodes. The protocol allows each node in the cluster to maintain track of information about the other nodes, such as which nodes are reachable, whose key ranges they are responsible for, and so on (this is a copy of the hash ring). To stay in sync, nodes communicate state information. 


The Gossip protocol is a peer-to-peer communication system in which nodes share state information about themselves and other nodes they are aware of regularly. Every second, each node starts a gossip round with one other random node to communicate state information about itself and other nodes. This implies that each new event propagates across the system eventually, and all nodes in a cluster soon learn about each other.


The gossip protocol is based on a probabilistic distribution of information selecting pairings to whom the nodes will distribute the data. This prevents the information from being duplicated or repeated to a node that already has it. 


For example, in the event of a work team that meets frequently to keep up with everything that happens in the workplace, each team member must be paired with another team member with whom they would communicate information via the Gossip protocol. This team member will be partnered with another who will be responsible for disseminating the same information, and so on to keep everyone informed.


Seed Nodes:


In some cases, the gossip protocol might result in a logical division of the cluster. Let's look at an example to help you understand:


An administrator connects node A to the ring before connecting node B. Although Nodes A and B are both members of the ring, none would be aware of the other. Some distributed systems employ the idea of seed nodes to avoid logical partitions. Seed nodes are fully functional nodes that might come from a static configuration or a configuration service. All nodes are aware of seed nodes in this fashion. To reconcile membership changes, each node connects with seed nodes via the gossip protocol. Logical divisions are hence exceedingly unlikely.


Also Read | Network Security


Goals of a Gossip Protocol:


A Gossip Protocol's main goal is to spread information as rapidly as possible across a large network of scattered nodes. To do so, these protocols start with the premise that processes that interact with their peers frequently are more productive. They can communicate information by establishing a high frequency and data flow through the network during this conversation. All of this occurs in a dispersion pattern that aids in the rapid distribution of information throughout the network.


On Usenet and IRC, for example, you can find examples of them. Despite being centralized, both systems used "whispers" to transmit news fast across the network. The routing system that makes the Internet possible is possibly the greatest illustration of this activity. Routing protocols like this allow routers to share information with their neighbors, improving the routing tables for the entire network. Finally, the network strives to create a better version of itself by finding the shortest path connecting all of its components.


This condition is quite beneficial in the development of a blockchain network. This sort of activity would be extremely beneficial to a globally scattered network. This maximizes the utilization of the resources available. As a result, in a network using Gossip Protocol, a transaction would move fast among all of the network's nodes, limiting assaults in the middle of its dispersion.


Gossip Protocol for Failure detection:


We can rapidly establish when a node is down by aggregating reachability data from several distinct nodes. There's no need to try to write to a node that's down, for example, conserving queue space, CPU, and bandwidth.


To flag a node down in a distributed system, you need at least two independent sources of information. It's not enough to assert that the other node is down because your node can't communicate with it. It's conceivable that one of your nodes is broken while the other is working well. However, if other nodes in the system notice that another node is dead, you may be quite certain that that node is dead. Here are several sophisticated, difficult-to-debug faults. What information do you have about what other nodes are seeing? This type of reachability data is sent using a gossip protocol.


In embedded software, Traces between nodes are frequently included on the backplane so that a local system may obtain independent proof that a certain node is dead, alive, or moving between the two states. If the data center truly is the computer, it would be good to see datacenters step up and add higher-level services like node liveness and time synchronization so that no application has to worry about these concerns again.


Gossip Protocol as a form of messaging:


This is a fantastic addition that is significantly more reliable than separate modules exchanging data and command and control through TCP connections. This method meets our goal of abstracting communication from application-level code. It seems self-evident that you'd send node characteristics to other nodes. Statistics such as average load, free memory, and so on might help a local node select where to transmit work, for example.


The key to scaling is this local decision-making perspective. There is no centralized management. Local nodes make judgments based on data collected locally. This may scale to the same extent as the gossip protocol. They employ an architecture I've developed on multiple products to convey subsystem information so software modules on a node may send information to other modules on other nodes, which takes it to another level.


Gossip Protocol in Cloud Computing:


The Gossip protocol is used to fix multicasting's difficulties; it is a method of communication in which a piece of information, or gossip, in this case, is conveyed from one or more nodes to a group of other nodes in a network. When a group of customers in the network demand the same data at the same time, this is advantageous. However, other issues arise during multicasting. For example, if there are many nodes at the receiving end, latency (the average time for a receiver to receive a multicast) increases.


Also Read | What is Residual Network (ResNet)


Advantages of Gossip Protocol:


Here are some advantages of the Gossip protocol:


  1. The protocols of Gossip are extremely scalable. This is because information can be distributed at a high level of efficiency. The nodes in these protocols send a set number of messages to the nodes with whom they are associated.


  1. All nodes in the Gossip Protocol work in the same way and have no particular or distinct functions. As a result, if one or more nodes fail, the operation of the remaining nodes in the network for information dissemination will not be affected or interrupted. Similarly, nodes can enter and exit the network between pairings without impacting its operation.


  1. These protocols can function successfully because nodes may exchange and distribute information with numerous nodes in the peer network. Even in challenging scenarios where some nodes' connection is compromised. If a node becomes unavailable for whatever reason, the information will be spread in the same manner by the other nodes that have previously received the message.


  1. The protocols of Gossip disseminate data in a decentralized and independent manner.


Disadvantages of Gossip Protocol:


Although Gossip protocols provide system resilience by allowing nodes to continue running without interruption in the event of a breakdown, the information or disseminated message may be impacted. If a node turns malevolent, for example, it might gradually change the information so that the message stays readable while still containing fraudulent or incorrect information. This information will also be distributed by the other nodes, which will continue to operate without interruption.


Applications of Gossip Protocol:


  1. Many distribution networks now employ Gossip Protocols to disseminate information reliably and quickly. The Gossip Protocols, for example, are used by bitcoin to spread nonce values across its mining nodes.


  1. The Apache Cassandra program, on the other hand, These protocols are used to build a communication channel via which all of the network's nodes may receive information and find pairings, which aid metadata dissemination.


  1. Similarly, the Ripples database also uses Gossip protocols to convey information about its rings' state and features. A procedure that nodes conduct regularly to keep the other nodes informed and updated about database modifications.


  1. Dynamo, for one, keeps track of memberships using the Gossip protocol, which allows you to find new program participants as well as notice any failure. Within the service network Consul, gossip protocols perform similarly. That it uses these protocols for both the identification of new members and the detection of network breakdowns or potential failures. Similarly, the Consul network employs Gossip protocols to safely and quickly relay information about new services and events inside the network.


Latest Comments