The C standard committee effort to kill C continues


Consider the following code: void f(void) { unsigned char x[1]; /* intentionally uninitialized */ x[0] ^= x[0]; printf("%d\n", x[0]); printf("%d\n", x[0]); return; } In this example, the unsigned char array x is intentionally uninitialized but cannot contain a trap representation because it has a character type. Consequently, the value is both indeterminate and an…

Chang-Maxemchuk atomic broadcast


The Chang-Maxemchuk algorithm (US Patent 4,725,834 ) solves atomic broadcast (and in-order broadcast) problems for distributed networks in a far simpler and more efficient way than some popular alternatives. In fact, the obscurity of this method is hard to understand given the current interest in distributed consensus. The basic idea is simple…

Data base design criteria: ease of use


Regarding ease-of-use, it’s often struck me when reviewing data systems papers that the evaluation sections are full of performance and correctness criteria, but only rarely is there any discussion of how well a system helps its target users achieve their goals: how easy is it to build, maintain, and debug…

Making Paxos face facts


Lamport's  "Paxos Made Simple" paper is notoriously hard to understand but at least part of the difficulty is that the algorithm  changes radically in the middle of the presentation.  The first part of the paper presents a subtle (maybe too subtle) method to permit multiple processes or network sites to agree…