Document Type


Publication Date



Knowledge has proven to be a useful and fundamental formalism for reasoning about distributed systems. The application of this formalism, however, entails a loss of volition on the part of processes about which something is known. This loss of volition is often not appropriate in loosely coupled distributed systems. In this paper, we generalize the formal characterization of knowledge into one of belief. Belief has the advantage of allowing processes to maintain volition. We examine some of the similarities and surprising differences between knowledge and belief. We also present some examples of distributed applications that are more conveniently characterized with belief rather than knowledge.


Publishers version: 10.1109/ICDCS.2003.1203493. c) 2002 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other users, including reprinting/ republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted components of this work in other works.


Distributed Computing Systems, 2003. Proceedings. 23rd International Conference on

First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.