Data Synchronization: A Complete Theoretical Solution for Filesystems

Our new paper that for the first time presents a complete theoretical background for data synchronization on filesystems is now available on arXiv! It is an easily accessible version and extension of our research so far.


Data reconciliation in general, and filesystem synchronization in particular, lacks rigorous theoretical foundation. This paper presents, for the first time, a complete analysis of synchronization for two replicas of a theoretical filesystem. Synchronization has two main stages: identifying the conflicts, and resolving them. All existing (both theoretical and practical) synchronizers are operation-based: they define, using some rationale or heuristics, how conflicts are to be resolved without considering the effect of the resolution on subsequent conflicts. Instead, our approach is declaration-based: we define what constitutes the resolution of all conflicts, and for each possible scenario we prove the existence of sequences of operations / commands which convert the replicas into a common synchronized state. These sequences consist of operations rolling back some local changes, followed by operations performed on the other replica. The set of rolled-back operations provides the user with clear and intuitive information on the proposed changes, so she can easily decide whether to accept them or ask for other alternatives. All possible synchronized states are described by specifying a set of conflicts, a partial order on the conflicts describing the order in which they need to be resolved, as well as the effect of each decision on subsequent conflicts. Using this classification, the outcomes of different conflict resolution policies can be investigated easily.

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