Technical Report CS0492

Title: Impossibility Results in the Presence of Multiple Faulty Processes
Authors: G. Taubenfeld, S. Katz and S. Moran
Abstract: We investigate the impossibility of solving certain problems in an unreliable distributed system where multiple processes may fail. A necessary condition is provided for the solvability of problems in the presence of multiple faulty processes, and variants of problems which are unsolvable in the presence of a single faulty process (such as consensus, choosing a leader, ranking, matching) are shown to be solvable in the presence of t-1 faulty processes but not in the presence of t faulty processes for any t. In order to prove the impossibility result we use a novel technique: a contradiction is shown among a set of axioms which characterize any fault-tolerant protocol solving the problems we treat. These results generalize previously known impossibility results for completely asynchronous systems.
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