Transaction Timestamping in (Temporal) Databases

Christian Jensen and David Lomet


Many database applications need accountability

and trace-ability that necessitate retaining previous

database states. For a transaction-time database supporting

this, the choice of times used to timestamp

database records, to establish when records are or were

current, needs to be consistent with a committed transaction

serialization order. Previous solutions have chosen

timestamps at commit time, selecting a time that

agrees with commit order. However, SQL standard

databases can require an earlier choice because a statement

within a transaction may request “current time.”

Managing timestamps chosen before a serialization order

is established is the challenging problem we solve


By building on two-phase locking concurrency control,

we can delay a transaction’s choice of a timestamp,

reducing the chance that transactions may need

to be aborted in order keep timestamps consistent with

a serialization order. Also, while timestamps stored

with records in a transaction-time database make it

possible to directly identify write-write and write-read

conflicts, handling read-write conflicts requires more.

Our simple auxiliary structure conservatively detects

read-write conflicts, and hence provides transaction

timestamps that are consistent with a serialization order.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published inVLDB Proceedings
PublisherVery Large Data Bases Endowment Inc.
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