System Design Interview – An insider's guide

by: Alex Xu (0)

System Design Interview - An Insider's Guide (Volume 1)

System design interviews are the most difficult to tackle of all technical interview questions. This book is Volume 1 of the System Design Interview - An insider’s guide series that provides a reliable strategy and knowledge base for approaching a broad range of system design questions. This book provides a step-by-step framework for 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.

What’s inside?
- 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
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

The Quotes

Consider using cache when data is read frequently but modified infrequently.

The ability to ask good questions is also an essential skill, and many interviewers specifically look for this skill.

When choosing a sharding key, one of the most important criteria is to choose a key that can evenly distributed data.

The Reviews

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 help me a lot with topics I’m not familiar with.Highlights:+ The book has a good set of questions.+ Lots of diagrams and clear explanation.+ You will learn something new by reading the book regardless of your experience.Drawbacks:- 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. Here are some of my other recommendations:-- designing data-intensive applications. Highly recommended.-- system design primer github repo. Highly recommended free resource.-- Leetcode discussion forum about system designs.-- Grokking the system interview course. This is an ok resource but not very deep.-- Various youtube channels. I like channels like Tushar Roy, System Design Interview, Success in Tech, etc. There are a lot more but I found them most useful for senior engineer positions.-- Various tech blogs: Facebook, Netflix, Uber, AirBnb, etc. Those tech blogs are extremely valuable to help us understand real-life systems.-- highscalability website. The website contains lots of real world systems.-- InfoQ youtube channel. Many tech companies talk about how they scale their systems at infoQ. I find sometimes it’s quite hard to find useful videos on google but when I narrow down it to a specific channel, it’s much easier to find. For example, I found a lot of useful tech talks about uber there. It’s invaluable when I interviewed there.

0. The chapters of the book don't help you get prepared for interviews1. Most of the topics are copied from white papers2. There is not definite structure of how to ace an System Design "interview"3. This book covers a lot of information but not deep enough. I would recommend watching youtube videos for SD instead.I returned the book, not impressed

Still reading, but clear already that the book is very comprehensive but also rather shallow. it talks about all right things, but not in depth at all, and defers some most tricky details (such as caching strategies, etc.) to the referenced articles and URL links. Basically the articles referenced after each chapter of the book are referenced there not to support the content of the book, but to extend that content, so, the book's content is not quite sufficient unless the references are also read through. I would still highly recommend this book, since it comprehensively enumerates the elements and the challenges of the system design that one needs to perfect, even if the content outside of the book is required for that.

This book 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.

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.

This is a great book that provides you with a high level understanding of the 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 purpose, it’s a good fresher for some of the key concept 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 overwhelm by the more complex materials. Therefore, they can go through the more high level concept quickly without being discouraged by the nitty gritty details.One suggestion would be provide qr codes for those end of the chapter reference materials for quick access. Or provide a website to host the most up to date links or reference archives in case any of the original material goes offline or changes url. Not critical, but a nice have.

If you want a 1000 foot view of System Design, this will be a good starting place. It is a fairly easy read that covers a variety of topics and hits on several key points of system design.That being said, it is not deep at all. Example diagrams seem hasty and some are not informant at all. Almost like an interview, some concepts are touched on then immediately abandoned. I am in the middle of Designing Data Intensive Applications and I would easily recommend that one over this book, although it will take longer to get through that content.Final Note: I cringed when I read p192 of Designing a News Feed. The author mentioned that users would POST a request with the message content and auth key as query parameters. This is a horrible practice and could expose personal information in logs. It should have been a POST body. This is not system design, but that does not excuse this example.

4 stars because the beige are see through. Bummer. They are cute and nice material. I ordered a large which were a little roomy. For reference I’m 5’5” 170, I’m between a 10/12 in pants. I have trouble with shorts being snug on my thighs but too big for my waist. These fit my waist because of the draw string and not snug on my thighs at all. I’m sending the beige back but will keep the sage green ones. They look a little funny in the front but maybe it’s just because I should have sized down. Overall they are worth a try, I may order a medium if I buy another pair.

Update: They seemed shockingly small at first. Because I’d already washed them before trying them on, I didn’t try to return them. I wore them around the house one day and found they fit great after they’d been worn a bit. I’m very happy with these now and plan to order more! They loosened up a bit with just a few minutes of wear. I’m a bottom heavy girl with a small wait and big thighs and a big rear. These were extremely flattering and comfortable after just a few minutes of wearing them.Shockingly small.

The size is true, but the material just isn't what I expected. It wrinkles easily and not comfortable to wear. They look ok, but I like comfort. The color was perfect. I am keeping them because the do match the top I purchased to go with them. Will wear for dress up only.

I wasn’t happy with the length. The fuller figured you are, the shorter they are. I will wear them at home, though, because the fabric washes well and is very soft and comfortable!

I love these shorts! They are comfortable and stretchy everywhere. I got a 2XL because I have thick thighs and shorts are hard to buy. When I bought them I was a size 14 and they fit beyond wonderfully, giving me the space needed in the thighs. I am down to a 12 now and they are still perfect. These are amazing. They stretch out some when wearing and then shrink again when washed. I have a thick butt and thighs and a small waist so the drawstring is great! Buying another pair right now!

I really like these shorts! The fit is great and they launder well. I live in a desert area and sometimes sleep in them. I’d buy them again in a different color.

Ok first I got the shorts and they were way too small. I wear a size 6 to 8, and I ordered a M. They were WAY too small. They were also yellow instead of tan, and the fabric was very thin and see-through. I started the process of returning them and got to the point where it said I could either print the return label or order one by mail for a dollar. I tried absolutely everything to print that label, including taking a screenshot, emailing it, taking a picture of it, and even going to a UPS store, but it was IMPOSSIBLE to print. The print button wasn't even a real button. So I contacted Amazon, and they said they would send a message to the third party seller. I soon got an email from the seller offering to give me the shorts for half price. I don't want these shorts that are cheap and don't fit me for any price. So next I tried ordering the label by mail for a dollar. It hasn't been sent to me, and the button for that option has mysteriously gone away. These shorts are not inexpessive. My advice is buy your shorts somewhere else. I'm glad I only purchased one pair from them.

These are cute and comfy. I gave curvy thighs and legs and they flatter my legs.

All concepts are very well written in easy understanding language with interesting real time scenarios on system designing. Definitely at the end of the book you feel that learned something useful

Even though book's title is "System Design Interview" it's 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 thouse issues. Book is full of diagrams, so it's easy to understand. Instead of going and find on internet how different companies dealing with all of those issues, you have everythng in one book. Looking at different system designes, you start to see the same patterns like caching, message queues, ... Great book.

When preparing for system design interviews, I was lost initially because there are not a lot of good materials available. I read a couple of blogs that went over some code and concepts. But I felt like something was missing. I didn't think I could confidently tackle the interview questions.This book helped fill in the gaps. It gave the most lucid explanation of system design concepts that I've come across, as well as diving deep into practical real world interview questions such as designing NewsFeed, YouTube, Google Drive, key value store, rate limiting, consistent hashing among many others. It is easy to read and easy to understand. It has tons of diagrams, tables and charts that help a lot. As a result I feel more empowered and more confident to design a better system. There's also useful advice in the book about how to handle the interview.It's really a must-read for system design interview preparation.

System Design Interview – An insider's guide
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