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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 here.

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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