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The Game of Paxos

By Harry C. Li, Lorenzo Alvisi and Allen Clement


We introduce the Game of Paxos to simplify the presentation of Paxos-style consensus protocols. We use this game to show how Lamport’s Paxos and Castro and Liskov’s PBFT are the same consensus protocol, but for different failure models. In this game, players try to store some value in a write-once register and quit only when they learn the register’s final value. The write-once register contains two novel abstractions: (i) a Paxos register that captures how processes in both Paxos and PBFT propose and decide values and (ii) tokens that capture how these protocols guarantee agreement despite partial failures. We encapsulate the differences between Paxos and PBFT in the implementation details of these abstractions.

Year: 2009
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