Conference paper

The Complexity of Renaming

We study the complexity of renaming, a fundamental problem in distributed computing in which a set of processes need to pick distinct names from a given namespace. We prove an individual lower bound of Omega(k) process steps for deterministic renaming into any namespace of size sub-exponential in k, where k is the number of participants. This bound is tight: it draws an exponential separation between deterministic and randomized solutions, and implies new tight bounds for deterministic fetch-and-increment registers, queues and stacks. The proof of the bound is interesting in its own right, for it relies on the first reduction from renaming to another fundamental problem in distributed computing: mutual exclusion. We complement our individual bound with a global lower bound of Omega(k log(k/c)) on the total step complexity of renaming into a namespace of size c k, for any c >= 1. This applies to randomized algorithms against a strong adversary, and helps derive new global lower bounds for randomized approximate counter and fetch-and-increment implementations, all tight within logarithmic factors.

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