Eventually Consistent Transactions (full version)

MSR-TR-2011-117 |

This is the full version with proofs of our ESOP 2012 paper.

When distributed clients query or update shared data, eventual consistency can provide better availability than strong consistency models. However, programming and implementing such systems can be difficult unless we establish a reasonable consistency model, i.e. some minimal guarantees that programmers can understand and systems can provide effectively.

To this end, we propose a novel consistency model based on eventually consistent transactions. Unlike serializable transactions, eventually consistent transactions are ordered by two order relations (visibility and arbitration) rather than a single order relation. To demonstrate that eventually consistent transactions can be effectively implemented, we establish a handful of simple operational rules for managing replicas, versions and updates, based on graphs called revision diagrams. We prove that these rules are sufficient to guarantee correct implementation of eventually consistent transactions. Finally, we present two operational models (single server and server pool) of systems that provide eventually consistent transactions.