The Complexity of Reliable and Secure Distributed Transactions

The use of transactions in distributed systems dates back to the 70's. The last decade has also seen the proliferation of transactional systems. In the existing transactional systems, many protocols employ a centralized approach in executing a distributed transaction where one single process coordinates the participants of a transaction. The centralized approach is usually straightforward and efficient in the failure-free setting, yet the coordinator then turns to be a single point of failure, undermining reliability/security in the failure-prone setting, or even be a performance bottleneck in practice. In this dissertation, we explore the complexity of decentralized solutions for reliable and secure distributed transactions, which do not use a distinguished coordinator or use the coordinator as little as possible. We show that for some problems in reliable distributed transactions, there are decentralized solutions that perform as efficiently as the classical centralized one, while for some others, we determine the complexity limitations by proving lower and upper bounds to have a better understanding of the state-of-the-art solutions. We first study the complexity on two aspects of reliable transactions: atomicity and consistency. More specifically, we do a systematic study on the time and message complexity of non-blocking atomic commit of a distributed transaction, and investigate intrinsic limitations of causally consistent transactions. Our study of distributed transaction commit focuses on the complexity of the most frequent executions in practice, i.e., failure-free, and willing to commit. Through our systematic study, we close many open questions like the complexity of synchronous non-blocking atomic commit. We also present an effective protocol which solves what we call indulgent atomic commit that tolerates practical distributed database systems which are synchronous "most of the time", and can perform as efficiently as the two-phase commit protocol widely used in distributed database systems. Our investigation of causal transactions focuses on the limitations of read-only transactions, which are considered the most frequent in practice. We consider "fast" read-only transactions where operations are executed within one round-trip message exchange between a client seeking an object and the server storing it (in which no process can be a coordinator). We show two impossibility results regarding "fast" read-only transactions. By our impossibility results, when read-only transactions are "fast", they have to be "visible", i.e., they induce inherent updates on the servers. We also present a "fast" read-only transaction protocol that is "visible" as an upper bound on the complexity of inherent updates. We then study the complexity of secure transactions in the model of secure multiparty computation: even in the face of malicious parties, no party obtains the computation result unless all other parties obtain the same result. As it is impossible to achieve without any trusted party, we focus on optimism where if all parties are honest, they can obtain the computation result without resorting to a trusted third party, and the complexity of every optimistic execution where all parties are honest. We prove a tight lower bound on the message complexity by relating the number of messages to the length of the permutation sequence in combinatorics, a necessary pattern for messages in every optimistic execution.


Advisor(s):
Guerraoui, Rachid
Year:
2018
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Laboratories:
DCL




 Record created 2018-09-13, last modified 2018-12-03

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