Heterogeneous Paxos

Abstract

In distributed systems, a group of learners achieve consensus when, by observing the output of some acceptors, they all arrive at the same value. Consensus is crucial for ordering transactions in failure-tolerant systems. Traditional consensus algorithms are homogeneous in three ways:

These assumptions, however, are unsuitable for cross-domain applications, including blockchains, where not all acceptors are equally trustworthy, and not all learners have the same assumptions and priorities. We present the first consensus algorithm to be heterogeneous in all three respects. Learners set their own mixed failure tolerances over differently trusted sets of acceptors. We express these assumptions in a novel Learner Graph, and demonstrate sufficient conditions for consensus. We present Heterogeneous Paxos: an extension of Byzantine Paxos. Heterogeneous Paxos achieves consensus for any viable Learner Graph in best-case three message sends, which is optimal. We present a proof-of-concept implementation, and demonstrate how tailoring for heterogeneous scenarios can save resources and latency.

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Isaac Sheff
Postdoctoral Researcher

Computer Scientist at MPI-SWS