A Digital Fountain Retrospective

John W. Byers, Michael Luby, Michael Mitzenmacher


We introduced the concept of a digital fountain as a scalable approach to reliable multicast, realized with fast and practical erasure codes, in a paper published in ACM SIGCOMM ’98. This invited editorial, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the SIG, reflects on the trajectory of work leading up to our approach, and the numerous developments in the field in the subsequent 21 years. We discuss advances in rateless codes, efficient implementations, applications of digital fountains in distributed storage systems, and connections to invertible Bloom lookup tables.

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