System Design Interview An insider’s guide 2nd Edition
The system design interview is considered to be the most complex and most difficult technical job interview by many. This book provides a step-by-step framework on how to tackle a system design question. It includes many real-world examples to illustrate the systematic approach with detailed steps that you can follow.
– An insider’s take on what interviewers really look for and why.
– A 4-step framework for solving any system design interview question.
– 16 real system design interview questions with detailed solutions.
– 188 diagrams to visually explain how different systems work.
Table Of Contents System Design Interview
Chapter 1: Scale From Zero To Millions Of Users
Chapter 2: Back-of-the-envelope Estimation
Chapter 3: A Framework For System Design Interviews
Chapter 4: Design A Rate Limiter
Chapter 5: Design Consistent Hashing
Chapter 6: Design A Key-value Store
Chapter 7: Design A Unique Id Generator In Distributed Systems
Chapter 8: Design A Url Shortener
Chapter 9: Design A Web Crawler
Chapter 10: Design A Notification System
Chapter 11: Design A News Feed System
Chapter 12: Design A Chat System
Chapter 13: Design A Search Autocomplete System
Chapter 14: Design Youtube
Chapter 15: Design Google Drive
Chapter 16: The Learning Continues
About the author:
Alex Xu is a software engineer and author. His book System Design Interview – An Insider’s Guide is one of Amazon‘s best-selling books in the “Distributed Systems & Computing” category. As of December 2020, his book is being translated into 5 different languages (Traditional Chinese, Russian, Polish, Simplified Chinese, and Korean).
Alex is building an interactive platform to enable engineers to improve their system design skills. If you are interested in technical writing or marketing in this space, feel free to reach out. He would love to connect and chat.
Reviews about the ebook System Design Interview:
- Vlad Bezden:
Great book for all software developersEven though the book’s title is “System Design Interview” it’s a great book for all software engineers. We as software engineers deal daily with issues like performance, scalability, etc… This book provides how different companies deal with those issues. The book is full of diagrams, so it’s easy to understand. Instead of going and find on the internet how different companies dealing with all of those issues, you have everything in one book. Looking at different system designs, you start to see the same patterns like caching, message queues. Great book.
- Carmen Hernandez:
The book is pretty good. It’s easy to read. There are lots of design diagrams. If you are a visual person, you will love the book. It helped me pass the system design round at FANG.I read the book twice and take notes. I read all the reference materials mentioned in the book. Reading those extra materials helps me a lot with topics I’m not familiar with.
+ The book has a good set of questions.
+ Lots of diagrams and clear explanations.
+ You will learn something new by reading the book regardless of your experience.
– I wish the reference links are footnotes instead of being at the end of chapters. That way, it’s more accessible.
– Some topics are not talked about too much like security and stream processing.
– It’s tailored towards junior and semi-senior engineers. Some chapters are not deep enough. For example, I wish the author would talk more about feed ranking and caching in the designing news feed chapter.
Overall, it’s a masterpiece in system design books. However, no book can cover everything in system design. No one knows every system.
System Design interviews have become the bread and butter of any Software Engineer loop, you can’t escape them. And yet they are the most difficult to prepare for. Even just starting preparation begins by doing an audit of all the material available to you: the primer on Github, the popular Grokking the Systems Design Interview course, High Scalability posts, whitepapers, gotta catch ’em all. This book is very applicable to specifically interviews, I don’t think you would get much of the level of explanation to necessarily use in your day-to-day that you couldn’t get from more in-depth material. This book is more of a this is specifically what you need for interviews: broad explanations, intuitive approaches, and does a fairly good job about approaching product requirement gathering, scalability techniques, and tricks for specific problems, like fan-out.The examples are pretty much what you’d expect, both product ones (Google, Facebook newsfeed, Youtube, etc.) and more low-level ones (rate limiter or consistent hashing) and especially in terms of the low-level ones it excels because I found these rarer to come across from an interview perspective in other material.
Whether you are preparing for an interview yourself or using this book to become a better interviewer, I’d definitely recommend it. I would also suggest this goes hand in hand with Grokking the Systems Design Interview course – some exercises are the same, but it works well to compare the techniques, the problem-solving approach, and judge the trade-offs for yourself. I would also say that Grokking the Systems Design Interview focuses more on estimation and data sharding, whereas this book is more about the essence of the problem at hand and less about the operational side.
- Tiffany Riggins:
This ebook really helped me understand system design interview questions.
Things I love about the book:
– It was a detailed step-by-step guide that is actionable and very easy to follow.
– Easy to understand language and I appreciate that the author uses diagrams to explain complex flow or design.
– The keep learning chapter was really helpful as it listed some real systems and company engineering blogs.
– Well structured. The author follows the 4-step framework to solve most of the system design questions. After reading the book, I think I can answer questions in a more structured way.Overall very helpful quick guide.
- Raghav Wuppukonduru:
All concepts are very well written in an easy understanding language with interesting real-time scenarios on system designing. Definitely, at the end of the book, you feel that learned something useful
This is the best resource I could find for system design interviews online. It has a lot of details and I especially appreciate the diagrams. It covers so many popular interview questions: key-value store, a news feed, video streaming, tiny URL, rate limiter, auto-complete, web crawler, notification system, etc. It helped me get my job offer at a big tech company where I was asked about key-value stores. This is obviously a must-have book to prepare for SWE /SDE interviews. I strongly recommend this book.
- Frank Chen:
This is a great book that provides you with a high-level understanding of system design at a large tech company. It’s a good read because the book intentionally makes it simple to understand and provides flowcharts for the complex system. Even for non-interview-preparation purposes, it’s a good fresher for some of the key concepts of building a large-scale software system. And if you interested in digging into some of the related but more complex topics, it provides a reference to the research papers/blogs at the end of each chapter. Some might consider this a con, but I think this is brilliant because the first-time reader who is not familiar with the topic will not feel overwhelmed by the more complex materials. Therefore, they can go through the more high-level concept quickly without being discouraged by the nitty-gritty details.
- Robert Požarickij:
I’ve been looking for this type of book for some time. The book is quite unique in what it focuses on – high-level design of various types of systems. Many of the concepts are presented in the context of interviewing, but they can still be applicable in day-to-day work as well.
Descent fundamentals overview, with a set of design questions and answers. The guidelines and answers and have a good level of description and break-down.However, none of the answers incorporate any of the cloud-native patterns. This book will not be helpful for anyone interviewing for more senior positions. If you are already in the cloud space and want to find out what gaps you have for an interview, you are better off reading some of the cloud-native or microservice pattern-related books.
The problems presented in this book can be found elsewhere on the internet however the answers in this book are clearly laid out and explained. As far as technical content goes similar to what can be found in the wild.
Very useful for a junior-mid level engineer, and possibly a decent starting point for a senior engineer.
- Olena Sovyn:
A great book to start learning more about the subject. Some might say that it repeats itself too much, I, however, find that it contains quite well-connected information
This book is a great resource to understand and practice system design knowledge for incoming interviews. The book is well constructed and fulfilled with detailed examples.Highly recommended.
Finished the book cover to cover. Here thoughts.*) An excellent read. You will get a real breadth of knowledge of how different popular systems are designed, what problems are solved and different system design parameters are considered and put into the design.
*) It also provides a good amount of info about different technologies and how they can be put together to make the whole system work.
*) I liked different principles that I came across while thinking about a system design.
Definitely recommend people to go through it.
*) Not all chapters have given back-of-the-envelope calculations. Only some have. Since this may be expected in all the interviews, calculations in the different systems will heal the reader visualize.
*) It is understandable that not aspects can be considered, but security peace of info is missing a bit. Maybe some info about it will help.
- Sergey Machulskis:
The best collection of “real-world” system designs I’ve ever seen. The author teaches concepts frequently appearing in distributed systems, and does it step-by-step. I wish I saw this book earlier.
Хорошая книга, показывающая общий план разработки достаточно крупных продуктов(сосредоточенная, правда, почти исключительно на вебсервисах). Иногда даются и конкретные алгоритмы, как при описании rate limiter, генератора айдишников или бэкенда для автокомплита. Если вы всю жизнь чинили баги в чем-то крупном, а проектировали изредка и какие-то мелочи, книга будет вам полезна как минимум для выработки привычки “не цепенеть”. Лично для меня, в силу максимальной нацеленности на практику без ручной имплементации алгоритмов консенсуса, “Интервью” оказалась даже полезнее, чем легендарная книга с кабанчиком.
- Gaurav Gaur:
System design can’t be mastered by just going through a book, but at the same time, a lot of developers don’t get a chance to work on projects which involve system design at scale. For them, this book can be a good starting point. Moreover, by going through it once you will have an idea about designing various types of systems.
After completing my first reading of the book I am writing this review, and I feel my decision to buy it and read it was worth it! Now, my plan is to keep going back to this book and visit the links mentioned in the book and learn things in depth by visiting them and practice system design by changing the constraints by myself. I am very sure this strategy will help me in long run to become a great system architect & designer eventually!
- Mohamed Elsherif:
Nice quick read, I like the systematic approach to solving the problems and breaking the process into steps or stages with expectations set for each step, which helps in improving communication between interviewer and interviewee.
Also a decent collection of problems that are common enough.
Highly recommended for prepping to interviews, obviously not comprehensive enough for the subject but that’s to be expected.
Great system design bookDon’t bother with others!
This book has many practical and useful interview questions and it has all the solutions! I was able to follow and retain a lot of fundamental knowledge quickly. I particularly love the diagrams in more than a dozen interview questions. It saves me a lot of time from having to gather the knowledge by myself on the internet. You can skip those chapters if you don’t have time. Even if you skim you’ll get something out of it.
- Avraam Mavridis:
The content is great, I wish there were more books like this one. Most of the books have a theory and not enough or not at all practical examples. Alex put in 16 great exercises for system design. I would also say that the title doesn’t help the book, either you plan to go to interviews or not, the book will teach you how to think about system design. One thing it may misses is to talk a bit about Cloud Economics and how someone should think about the cost of their design and the tradeoffs there.
- Abhishek Mittal:
The book covers various topics in good detail. It starts with the basics and proceeds to more advanced problems. The reading is lite and the illustrations are good. It also has further readings and great links to related articles. I would highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to learn more about how systems are designed.