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Flexible Paxos: Reaching agreement without majorities

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The Paxos algorithm is a widely adopted approach to achieving distributed consensus. Over three decades it has been extensively researched, optimized and deployed in popular systems such as Raft, Zookeeper and Chubby. At its foundation, Paxos uses two phases, each requiring agreement from a majority of participants (known as quorums) to reliably reach consensus.

In this seminar, I will share the simple yet powerful result that each of the phases of Paxos may use non-intersecting quorums. This means that majorities are no longer necessary and that Paxos is in fact a single point on a broad spectrum of possibilities for safely reaching consensus. This result therefore opens the door for a new breed of scalable and resilient consensus algorithms for performant production system.

More information about this result can be found at fpaxos.github.io and the following blog post summarises the theory paper for the systems community http://hh360.user.srcf.net/blog/2016/08/majority-agreement-is-not-necessary/

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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