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Evolving beyond asynchrony

Report ID:
January 2005
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Synchronous distributed systems deserve more research attention. This paper
considers in more detail the advantages of wider adoption of synchrony,
both for existing and potential novel applications. Supposing efficient and
robust synchronization mechanisms existed, there are significant benefits to be had, even for existing applications. A technique is proposed to reduce or eliminate congestion for statistically multiplexed packet networks, using decentralized coordination of packet forwarding buffers. This technique can be implemented efficiently on a synchronous network because it leverages the available determinism - something missing from asynchronous networks. Formal system analysis techniques, such as temporal logic, assume synchrony because asynchrony creates too much non-determinism. Likely the main advantage of synchrony is enabling wider application of such powerful analysis, which is currently relegated to specialized domains such as safety-critical real-time control systems.

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