Weak Isolation: Theory and Its Impact
Since the seminal work of Jim Gray in the 1970s, database management has aimed at providing transactions that pass the "ACID test" and are serializable; these will ensure the consistency of the stored information. In practice, and especially where storage is distributed over wide areas, it is common to use weaker isolation mechanisms, that tradeoff the correctness guarantees of perfect isolation in order to gain performance and availability. Among the important weak mechanisms are Snapshot Isolation (which offered in Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and other platforms) and Eventual Consistency (used in several cloud data-storage platforms). This talk will give an overview of research I have been involved in for the last decade, where we have learned a lot about weak mechanisms, and especially about ways to protect data integrity while still getting some of the performance benefits of weak mechanisms. In 2011, the PostgreSQL open source platform altered its concurrency control algorithm, to introduce an implementation of an algorithm of Cahill, Roehm and Fekete (2009).
Alan Fekete is Professor of Enterprise Software Systems within the School of Information Technologies at the University of Sydney. His doctorate was earned in the mathematics department of Harvard University. He has been with the University of Sydney since 1988, and he has held visiting positions at Cornell, MIT, University of Washington, and Microsoft Research. His recent research is focused on transaction management, and he has also published in software engineering, theory of distributed computing, and computing education. His papers have appeared in Journal of ACM, ACM Transactions on Computer Systems, ACM Transactions on Database Systems, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge end Data Engineering , and IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and in conferences such as ACM SIGMOD, VLDB, IEEE ICDE, ACM PODS and ACM PODC; and he is the recipient of the best paper award from 2008 ACM SIGMOD conference.
He has frequently served on Program Committees for the leading database conferences, including SIGMOD and VLDB. He has been recognized as a Distinguished Scientist by ACM for "significant accomplishments in, and impact on, the computing field".