Wait-free approximate agreement on graphs

by   Dan Alistarh, et al.

Approximate agreement is one of the few variants of consensus that can be solved in a wait-free manner in asynchronous systems where processes communicate by reading and writing to shared memory. In this work, we consider a natural generalisation of approximate agreement on arbitrary undirected connected graphs. Each process is given a vertex of the graph as input and, if non-faulty, must output a vertex such that - all the outputs are within distance 1 of one another, and - each output value lies on a shortest path between two input values. From prior work, it is known that there is no wait-free algorithm among n ≥ 3 processes for this problem on any cycle of length c ≥ 4, by reduction from 2-set agreement (Castañeda et al., 2018). In this work, we investigate the solvability and complexity of this task on general graphs. We give a new, direct proof of the impossibility of approximate agreement on cycles of length c ≥ 4, via a generalisation of Sperner's Lemma to convex polygons. We also extend the reduction from 2-set agreement to a larger class of graphs, showing that approximate agreement on on these graphs is unsolvable. Furthermore, we show that combinatorial arguments, used by both existing proofs, are necessary, by showing that the impossibility of a wait-free algorithm in the nonuniform iterated snapshot model cannot be proved via an extension-based proof. On the positive side, we present a wait-free algorithm for a class of graphs that properly contains the class of chordal graphs.


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