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Mutual Exclusion in Partitioned Distributed Systems

Report ID:
July 1, 1985
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A network partition can break a distributed computing system into groups of isolated nodes. When this occurs, a mutual exclusion mechanism may be required to ensure that isolated groups do not concurrently perform conflicting operations. We study and formalize these mechanisms in three basic scenarios: where there is a single conflicting type of action; where there are two conflicting types, but operations of the same type do not conflict; and where there are two conflicting types, but operations of one type do not conflict among themselves. For each scenario, we present applications that require mutual exclusion (e.g., name servers, termination protocols, concurrency control). In each case, we also present mutual exclusion mechanisms that are more general and that may provide higher reliability than the voting
mechanisms that have been proposed as solutions to this problem.

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