Conference paper

Easy Impossibility Proofs for k-Set Agreement in Message Passing Systems

Despite of being quite similar (agreement) problems, 1-set agreement (consensus) and general k-set agreement require surprisingly different techniques for proving the impossibility in asynchronous systems with crash failures: Rather than the relatively simple bivalence arguments as in the impossibility proof for consensus in the presence of a single crash failure, known proofs for the impossibility of k-set agreement in shared memory systems with f >= k > 1 crash failures use algebraic topology or a variant of Sperner's Lemma. In this paper, we present a generic theorem for proving the impossibility of k-set agreement in various message passing settings, which is based on a reduction to the consensus impossibility in a certain subsystem resulting from a partitioning argument.

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