it appears that Linus has managed to advance the state of the art in a few ways. It's too early to know for sure, but git appears to be an impressive piece of design work.
It's impressive design work because it's essentially the same design as monotone, just stripped back and implemented from scratch with simplicity and speed as primary objectives. Monotone didn't disregard either simplicity or speed, but recent work on the (cool, interesting, complicated) netsync protocol introduced a lot of redundant sanity checks which hit performance hard. Monotone is not inherently slower than git (which uses rsync, which is cool, interesting, complicated and already debugged), and the fundamental ideas are the same.
The fact that everyone now wants to use git as a backend is as much a tip of the hat to Graydon Hoare as to Linus Torvalds.
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