Improved communication complexity of fault-tolerant consensus

Mohammad T. Hajiaghayi, Dariusz R. Kowalski, Jan Olkowski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Consensus is one of the most thoroughly studied problems in distributed computing, yet there are still complexity gaps that have not been bridged for decades. In particular, in the classical message-passing setting with processes' crashes, since the seminal works of Bar-Joseph and Ben-Or [PODC 1998] and Aspnes and Waarts [SICOMP 1996, JACM 1998] in the previous century, there is still a fundamental unresolved question about communication complexity of fast randomized Consensus against a (strong) adaptive adversary crashing processes arbitrarily online. The best known upper bound on the number of communication bits is (n3/2/logn) per process, while the best lower bound is ω(1). This is in contrast to randomized Consensus against a (weak) oblivious adversary, for which time-almost-optimal algorithms guarantee amortized O(1) communication bits per process. We design an algorithm against adaptive adversary that reduces the communication gap by nearly linear factor to O(n· n) bits per process, while keeping almost-optimal (up to factor O(log3 n)) time complexity O(n·log5/2 n). More surprisingly, we show this complexity indeed can be lowered further, but at the expense of increasing time complexity, i.e., there is a trade-off between communication complexity and time complexity. More specifically, our main Consensus algorithm allows to reduce communication complexity per process to any value from n to O(n· n), as long as Time × Communication = O(n· n). Similarly, reducing time complexity requires more random bits per process, i.e., Time × Randomness =O(n· n). Our parameterized consensus solutions are based on a few newly developed paradigms and algorithms for crash-resilient computing, interesting on their own. The first one, called a Fuzzy Counting, provides for each process a number which is in-between the numbers of alive processes at the end and in the beginning of the counting. Our deterministic Fuzzy Counting algorithm works in O(log3 n) rounds and uses only O( n) amortized communication bits per process, unlike previous solutions to counting that required ω(n) bits. This improvement is possible due to a new Fault-tolerant Gossip solution with O(log3 n) rounds using only O(||· n) communication bits per process, where || is the length of the rumor binary representation. It exploits distributed fault-tolerant divide-and-conquer idea, in which processes run a Bipartite Gossip algorithm for a considered partition of processes. To avoid passing many long messages, processes use a family of small-degree compact expanders for local signaling to their overlay neighbors if they are in a compact (large and well-connected) party, and switch to a denser overlay graph whenever local signalling in the current one is failed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSTOC 2022 - Proceedings of the 54th Annual ACM SIGACT Symposium on Theory of Computing
EditorsStefano Leonardi, Anupam Gupta
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450392648
StatePublished - Sep 6 2022
Event54th Annual ACM SIGACT Symposium on Theory of Computing, STOC 2022 - Rome, Italy
Duration: Jun 20 2022Jun 24 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing
ISSN (Print)0737-8017


Conference54th Annual ACM SIGACT Symposium on Theory of Computing, STOC 2022


  • adaptive adversary
  • crash failures
  • distributed consensus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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