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From Eric Evans <>
Subject Re: distribution of token ranges with virtual nodes
Date Wed, 31 Oct 2012 18:17:20 GMT
On Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 11:38 AM, John Sanda <> wrote:
> Can/should i assume that i will get even range distribution or close to it with random
> token selection?

The short answer is: If you're using virtual nodes, random token
selection will give you even range distribution.

The somewhat longer answer is that this is really a function of the
total number of tokens.  The more randomly generated tokens a cluster
has, the more distribution will even out.  The reason this can work
for virtual nodes where it has not for the older 1-token-per-node
model is because (assuming a reasonable num_tokens value), virtual
nodes gives you a much higher token count for a given number of nodes.

That wiki page you cite wasn't really intended to be documentation
(expect some of that soon though), but what that section was trying to
convey was that while random distribution is quite good, it may not be
100% perfect, especially when the number of nodes is low (remember,
the number of tokens scales with the number of nodes).  I think this
is (or may be) a problem for some.  If you're forced to manually
calculate tokens then you are quite naturally going to calculate a
perfect distribution, and if you've grown accustomed to this, seeing
the ownership values off by a few percent could really bring out your
inner OCD. :)

> For the sake of discussion, what is a reasonable default to start
> with for num_tokens assuming nodes are homogenous? That wiki page mentions a
> default of 256 which I see commented out in cassandra.yaml; however,
> Config.num_tokens is set to 1.

The (unconfigured )default is 1.  That is to say that virtual nodes is
not enabled.  The current recommendation when setting this,
(documented in the config) is 256.

> Maybe I missed where the default of 256 is
> used. From some initial testing though, it looks like 1 token per node is
> being used. Using defaults in cassandra.yaml, I see this in my logs,

Right.  And it's worth noting that if you uncomment num_tokens *after*
starting a node with it commented (i.e. num_tokens: 1), then it will
migrate you to virtual nodes by splitting the existing partition 256
ways.  This is *not* the equivalent of starting a node with num_tokens
= 256 for the first time.  The latter would leave you with randomized
placement, the former would require you to perform a shuffle to
achieve that.

Eric Evans
Acunu | | @acunu

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