Impossibility of Strongly-Linearizable Message-Passing Objects via Simulation by Single-Writer Registers

05/14/2021
by   Hagit Attiya, et al.
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A key way to construct complex distributed systems is through modular composition of linearizable concurrent objects. A prominent example is shared registers, which have crash-tolerant implementations on top of message-passing systems, allowing the advantages of shared memory to carry over to message-passing. Yet linearizable registers do not always behave properly when used inside randomized programs. A strengthening of linearizability, called strong linearizability, has been shown to preserve probabilistic behavior, as well as other hypersafety properties. In order to exploit composition and abstraction in message-passing systems, it is crucial to know whether there exist strongly-linearizable implementations of registers in message-passing. This paper answers the question in the negative: there are no strongly-linearizable fault-tolerant message-passing implementations of multi-writer registers, max-registers, snapshots or counters. This result is proved by reduction from the corresponding result by Helmi et al. The reduction is a novel extension of the BG simulation that connects shared-memory and message-passing, supports long-lived objects, and preserves strong linearizability. The main technical challenge arises from the discrepancy between the potentially minuscule fraction of failures to be tolerated in the simulated message-passing algorithm and the large fraction of failures that can afflict the simulating shared-memory system. The reduction is general and can be viewed as the reverse of the ABD simulation of shared memory in message-passing.

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