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Consistency in the ACID and CAP Perspectives

Following a tweet from Nathan Marz:

The problem with relational databases is that they conflate the notions of data and views

Sergio Bossa and Alex Feinberg had a very interesting exchange about the meaning of consistency in the context of ACID and consistency in CAP theorem perspective.

Alex: @nathanmarz That’s reason for confusion between C in ACID and C in CAP: C in ACID means consistent view of data which can be done w/ quorums

Sergio: @strlen That’s a common misconception: ACID C just means your write operations do not break data constraints. It’s not about the view.

Alex: @sbtourist It also refers to not allowing reads of intermediate states i.e., serializability. W/o a quorum, an EC system could allow such.

Alex: @sbtourist On the other hand, an async system where node B is behind node A is still C in the ACID sense without being C in the CAP sense.

Sergio: @strlen Nope, that’s the isolation level (ACID I). Again, ACID C has a precise meaning and it’s about constraints.

Alex: @sbtourist Yeah, I think you are right: serializability would be “I”, with consensus (strongest form of CAP “C”) being about “A” (atomicity)

Sergio: @strlen That said, I strongly agree with you about ACID C being different than CAP C.

Alex: @sbtourist Yes. Both “consistent” and “atomic” mean diff things in DBs than they do elsewhere in systems (e.g., way that “ln -s” is atomic)

There have been many discussions about the loose definitions of the terms in the CAP theorem. Daniel Abadi exposed an interesting perspective on the subject proposing instead PACELC:

To me, CAP should really be PACELC – if there is a partition (P) how does the system tradeoff between availability and consistency (A and C); else (E) when the system is running as normal in the absence of partitions, how does the system tradeoff between latency (L) and consistency (C)?

Original title and link: Consistency in the ACID and CAP Perspectives (NoSQL databases © myNoSQL)