Scalability in Computing and Robotics

Heiko Hamann, Andreagiovanni Reina


A scalable system has increasing performance with increasing system size. Coordination among units can introduce overheads with an impact on system performance. The coordination costs can lead to sublinear improvement or even diminishing performance with increasing system size. However, there are also systems that implement efficient coordination and exploit collaboration of units to attain superlinear improvement. Modeling the scalability dynamics is key to understanding and engineering efficient systems. Known laws of scalability are minimalistic phenomenological models that explain a rich variety of system behaviors through concise equations. While useful to gain general insights, the phenomenological nature of these models may limit the understanding of the underlying dynamics, as they are detached from first principles that could explain coordination overheads or synergies among units. Through a decentralized system approach, we propose a general model based on generic interactions between units that is able to describe, as specific cases, any general pattern of scalability included by previously reported laws. The proposed general model of scalability has the advantage of being built on first principles, or at least on a microscopic description of interaction between units, and therefore has the potential to contribute to a better understanding of system behavior and scalability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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