Robustness Against Transactional Causal Consistency
Logical Methods in Computer Science
Distributed storage systems and databases are widely used by various types of applications. Transactional access to these storage systems is an important abstraction allowing application programmers to consider blocks of actions (i.e., transactions) as executing atomically. For performance reasons, the consistency models implemented by modern databases are weaker than the standard serializability model, which corresponds to the atomicity abstraction of transactions executing over a sequentially
... consistent memory. Causal consistency for instance is one such model that is widely used in practice. In this paper, we investigate application-specific relationships between several variations of causal consistency and we address the issue of verifying automatically if a given transactional program is robust against causal consistency, i.e., all its behaviors when executed over an arbitrary causally consistent database are serializable. We show that programs without write-write races have the same set of behaviors under all these variations, and we show that checking robustness is polynomial time reducible to a state reachability problem in transactional programs over a sequentially consistent shared memory. A surprising corollary of the latter result is that causal consistency variations which admit incomparable sets of behaviors admit comparable sets of robust programs. This reduction also opens the door to leveraging existing methods and tools for the verification of concurrent programs (assuming sequential consistency) for reasoning about programs running over causally consistent databases. Furthermore, it allows to establish that the problem of checking robustness is decidable when the programs executed at different sites are finite-state.