Data replication is a common technique for programming distributed systems, and is often important to achieve performance or reliability goals. Unfortunately, the replication of data can compromise its consistency, and thereby break programs that are unaware. In particular, in weakly consistent systems, programmers must assume some responsibility to properly deal with queries that return stale data, and to avoid state corruption under conflicting updates. The fundamental tension between performance (favoring weak consistency) and correctness (favoring strong consistency) is a recurring theme when designing concurrent and distributed systems, and is both practically relevant and of theoretical interest.
In this course, we investigate how to understand and formalize consistency guarantees, and how we can determine if a system implementation is correct with respect to such specifications. We start by examining consensus, a classic problem in distributed systems, and then proceed to study various specifications and implementations of eventually consistent systems.