2015. Exactly-Once Quantity Transfer. Abstract
Strongly consistent systems supporting distributed transactions can be prone to high latency and do not tolerate partitions. The present trend of using weaker forms of consistency, to achieve high availability, poses notable challenges in writing applications due to the lack of linearizability, e.g., to ensure global invariants, or perform mutator operations on a distributed datatype. This paper addresses a specific problem: the exactly-once transfer of a “quantity” from one node to another on an unreliable network (coping with message duplication, loss, or reordering) and without any form of global synchronization. This allows preserving a global property (the sum of quantities remains unchanged) without requiring global linearizability and only through using pairwise interactions between nodes, therefore allowing partitions in the system. We present the novel quantitytransfer algorithm while focusing on a specific use-case: a redistribution protocol to keep the quantities in a set of nodes balanced; in particular, averaging a shared real number across nodes. Since this is a work in progress, we briefly discuss the correctness of the protocol, and we leave potential extensions and empirical evaluations for future work.