Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Atomicity Vs. Availability: Concurrency Control for Replicated Data


Maurice Herlihy

February 1985

Data managed by a distributed program may be subject to consistency and availability requirements that must be satisfied in the presence of concurrency, site crashes, and network partitions. This paper proposes two integrated methods for implementing concurrency control and replication for data of abstract type. Both methods use quorum consensus. The Consensus Locking method minimizes constraints on availability, and the Consensus Scheduling method minimizes constraints on concurrency. These methods systematically exploit type-specific properties of the data to provide better availability and concurrency than methods based on the conventional read/write classification of operations. Necessary and sufficient constraints on correct implementations are derived directly from the data type specification. These constraints reveal that an object cannot be replicated in a way that simultaneously minimizes constraints on both availability and concurrency.

26 pages

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