O'Reilly logo

Concurrent and Distributed Computing in Java by Vijay K. Garg

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 15

Agreement

15.1 Introduction

Consensus is a fundamental problem in distributed computing. Consider a distributed database in which a transaction spans multiple sites. In this application it is important that either all sites agree to commit or all sites agree to abort the transaction. In absence of failures, this is a simple task. We can use either a centralized scheme or a quorum-based scheme. What if processes can fail? It may appear that if links are reliable, the system should be able to tolerate at least failure of a single process. In this chapter, we show the surprising result that even in the presence of one unannounced process death, the consensus problem is impossible to solve. This result (FLP) is named after Fischer, Lynch and Paterson who first discovered it.

The FLP result for consensus shows a fundamental limitation of asynchronous computing. The problem itself is very basic—processes need to agree on a single bit. Most problems we have discussed such as leader election, mutual exclusion, and computation of global functions are harder than the consensus problem because any solution to these problems can be used to solve the consensus problem. The impossibility of consensus implies that all these problems are also impossible to solve in the presence of process failures.

The FLP result is remarkable in another sense. It assumes only a mild form of failures in the environment. First, it assumes only process failures and not link failures. Any message sent ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required