Approaches to Fault-Tolerant and Transactional Mobile Agent Execution -- An Algorithmic View

Over the past years, mobile agent technology has attracted considerable attention, and a significant body of literature has been published. To further develop mobile agent technology, reliability mechanisms such as fault tolerance and transaction support are required. This article aims at structuring the field of fault-tolerant and transactional mobile agent execution and thus at guiding the reader to understand the basic strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches. It starts with a discussion on providing fault tolerance in a system in which processes simply fail. For this purpose, we first identify two basic requirements for fault-tolerant mobile agent execution: (1) non-blocking (i.e., a single failure does not prevent progress of the mobile agent execution) and (2) exactly-once (i.e., multiple executions of the agent are prevented). This leads us to introduce the notion of a local transaction as the basic building block for fault-tolerant mobile agent execution and to classify existing approaches according to when and by whom the local transactions are committed. In a second part, we show that transactional mobile agent execution additionally ensures execution atomicity and present a survey of existing approaches. In the last part of the survey, we extend the notion of fault tolerance to arbitrary Byzantine failures and security-related issues of the mobile agent execution.

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