Interesting distributed computing problem

Routing items from seller to buyer for an Ebay like company. If 1 item has to be sent from 1 seller to 1 buyer, the shortest (cheapest) path can be found easily. But sending 10,000 items from 1000 sellers to 5000 buyers using the same algorithm will obviously be inefficient. Sending all the items to a central location and then distributing it is also non-optimal. Theoretically solving the problem is obviously NP-hard. We were more interested in building a real-time distributed system which does the task using limited knowledge. Given 100 distribution centers, how do they communicate between themselves to distribute huge number of items per day between different buyers and sellers. Servers can fail, two servers can potentially give conflicting information.

The system should support fault tolerance and state machine replication. Realize that making all servers agree on one routing path for x items is a Distributed Consensus problem.


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