Generalized Lattice Agreement

Speaker  Kapil Vaswani

Affiliation  Microsoft Research India

Host  Chris Gould-Sandhu

Duration  01:45:02

Date recorded  6 June 2012

Lattice agreement is a key decision problem in distributed systems. In this problem, processes start with input values from a lattice, and must learn (non-trivial) values that form a chain. Unlike consensus, which is impossible in the presence of even a single process failure, lattice agreement has been shown to be decidable in the presence of failures.

In this talk, we consider lattice agreement problems in asynchronous, message passing systems. We present an algorithm for the lattice agreement problem that guarantees liveness as long as a majority of the processes are non-faulty. The algorithm has a time complexity of O(N) message delays, where N is the number of processes. We then introduce the generalized lattice agreement problem, where each process receives a (potentially unbounded) sequence of values from an infinite lattice and must learn a sequence of increasing values such that the union of all learnt sequences is a chain and every proposed value is eventually learnt. We present a wait-free algorithm for solving generalized lattice agreement. The algorithm guarantees that every value received by a correct process is learnt in O(N) message delays. We show that this algorithm can be used to implement a class of replicated state machines where (a) commands can be classified as reads and updates, and (b) all update commands commute. Finally, we will discuss how this algorithm can be used to realize serializable and linearizable replicated versions of commonly used data types, and for incrementally maintaining materialized views in distributed databases.

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