Consensus Needs Broadcast in Noiseless Models but can be Exponentially Easier in the Presence of Noise [article]

Andrea Clementi, Luciano Gualà, Emanuele Natale, Francesco Pasquale, Giacomo Scornavacca, Luca Trevisan
<span title="2018-07-15">2018</span> <i > arXiv </i> &nbsp; <span class="release-stage" >pre-print</span>
Consensus and Broadcast are two fundamental problems in distributed computing, whose solutions have several applications. Intuitively, Consensus should be no harder than Broadcast, and this can be rigorously established in several models. Can Consensus be easier than Broadcast? In models that allow noiseless communication, we prove a reduction of (a suitable variant of) Broadcast to binary Consensus, that preserves the communication model and all complexity parameters such as randomness, number
more &raquo; ... of rounds, communication per round, etc., while there is a loss in the success probability of the protocol. Using this reduction, we get, among other applications, the first logarithmic lower bound on the number of rounds needed to achieve Consensus in the uniform GOSSIP model on the complete graph. The lower bound is tight and, in this model, Consensus and Broadcast are equivalent. We then turn to distributed models with noisy communication channels that have been studied in the context of some bio-inspired systems. In such models, only one noisy bit is exchanged when a communication channel is established between two nodes, and so one cannot easily simulate a noiseless protocol by using error-correcting codes. An Ω(ϵ^-2 n) lower bound on the number of rounds needed for Broadcast is proved by Boczkowski et al. [PLOS Comp. Bio. 2018] in one such model (noisy uniform PULL, where ϵ is a parameter that measures the amount of noise). In such model, we prove a new Θ(ϵ^-2 n n) bound for Broadcast and a Θ(ϵ^-2 n) bound for binary Consensus, thus establishing an exponential gap between the number of rounds necessary for Consensus versus Broadcast.
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