from the Artful MySQL Tips List

Gunther's Universal Scalability Law says the capacity of a system is equal to

1 + σ(N-1) + κ(N-1)

where ...

N = number of processes,
σ = amount of contention, ie the degree to which work is serial rather than parallel,
κ = cost of consistency: ie the work the system must do to synchronise shared data.

In English: capacity increases with the number of processes and decreases with contention and crosstalk.

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