Simplifying Fault-Tolerance: Providing the Abstraction of Crash Failures

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Bazzi, Rida Adnan
Neiger, Gil
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The difficulty of designing fault-tolerant distributed algorithms increases with the severity of failures that an algorithm must tolerate. This paper considers methods that automatically translate algorithms tolerant of simple crash failures into ones tolerant of more severe failures. These translations simplify the design task by allowing algorithm designers to assume that processors fail only by stopping. Such translations can be quantified by two measures: fault-tolerance, which is a measure of how many processors must remain nonfaulty for the translation to be correct, and round-complexity, which is a measure of how the translation increases the running time of an algorithm. Understanding these translations and their limitations with respect to these measures can provide insight into the relative impact of different models of faulty behavior on the ability to provide fault-tolerant applications. This paper considers two classes of translations from crash failures to each of the following types of more severe failures: omission to send messages; omission to send and receive messages; and totally arbitrary behavior. It shows that previously developed translations to send-omission failures are optimal with respect to both fault-tolerance and round-complexity. It exhibits a hierarchy of translations to general (send/receive) omissions that improves upon the fault-tolerance of previously developed translations. It also gives a series of translations to arbitrary failures that improves upon the round-complexity of previously developed translations. All translations developed in this paper are shown to be optimal in that they cannot be improved with respect to one measure without negatively affecting the other; that is, both hierarchies of translations are matched by corresponding hierarchies of impossibility results.
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