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  • The Inria's Research Teams produce an annual Activity Report presenting their activities and their results of the year. These reports include the team members, the scientific program, the software developed by the team and the new results of the year. The report also describes the grants, contracts and the activities of dissemination and teaching. Finally, the report gives the list of publications of the year.

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Section: New Results

Distributed Algorithms for Dynamic Networks and Fault Tolerance

Participants : Luciana Bezerra Arantes [correspondent] , Sébastien Bouchard, Marjorie Bournat, João Paulo de Araujo, Swan Dubois, Laurent Feuilloley, Denis Jeanneau, Jonathan Lejeune, Franck Petit [correspondent] , Pierre Sens, Julien Sopena.

Nowadays, distributed systems are more and more heterogeneous and versatile. Computing units can join, leave or move inside a global infrastructure. These features require the implementation of dynamic systems, that is to say they can cope autonomously with changes in their structure in terms of physical facilities and software. It therefore becomes necessary to define, develop, and validate distributed algorithms able to managed such dynamic and large scale systems, for instance mobile ad hoc networks, (mobile) sensor networks, P2P systems, Cloud environments, robot networks, to quote only a few.

The fact that computing units may leave, join, or move may result of an intentional behavior or not. In the latter case, the system may be subject to disruptions due to component faults that can be permanent, transient, exogenous, evil-minded, etc. It is therefore crucial to come up with solutions tolerating some types of faults.

In 2018, we obtained the following results.

Scheduling in uncertain environments

In [19], we consider scheduling with faults/errors and we introduce a new non-probabilistic model with explorable (query-able) uncertainty. Each unit-time error is characterized by an uncertainty area during which the error will occur, and it is possible to learn the exact slot at which it will appear by issuing a query operation of unit cost. We study two problems: (i) the error-query scheduling problem, whose aim is to reveal enough error-free slots with the minimum number of queries, and (ii) the lexicographic error-query scheduling problem where we seek the earliest error-free slots with the minimum number of queries. We consider both the off-line and the on-line versions of the above problems. In the former, the whole instance and its characteristics are known in advance and we give a polynomial-time algorithm for the error-query scheduling problem. In the latter, the adversary has the power to decide, in an on-line way, the time-slot of appearance for each error. We propose then both lower bounds and algorithms whose competitive ratios asymptotically match these lower bounds.

Failure detectors in dynamic systems

The failure detector abstraction was introduced as a way to circumvent the impossibility of solving consensus in asynchronous systems prone to crash failures. A failure detector is a local oracle that provides processes in the system with unreliable information on process failures. But a failure detector that is sufficient to solve a given problem in a static system is not necessarily sufficient to solve the same problem in a dynamic system. In [37], we adapt an existing failure detector for mutual exclusion and prove that it is the weakest failure detector to solve mutual exclusion in dynamic systems, which means that it is weaker than any other failure detector capable of solving mutual exclusion.

We also propose in [15] a new failure detector, called the Impact failure detector (FD), that expresses the confidence with regard to the system as a whole. Similarly to a reputation approach, it is possible to indicate the relative importance of each process of the system, while a threshold offers a degree of flexibility for failures and false suspicions. Performance evaluation results, based on real PlanetLab traces, confirm the degree of flexible of the failure detector.

Causal information dissemination

A causal broadcast ensures that messages are delivered to all nodes (processes) preserving causal relation of the messages. In [33], we propose a new causal broadcast protocol for distributed systems whose nodes are logically organized in a virtual hypercube-like topology called VCube. Messages are broadcast by dynamically building spanning trees rooted in the message's source node. By using multiple trees, the contention bottleneck problem of a single root spanning tree approach is avoided. Furthermore , different trees can intersect at some node. Hence, by taking advantage of both the out-of-order reception of causally related messages at a node and these paths intersections, a node can delay to one or more of its children in the tree. Experimental evaluation conducted on top of PeerSim simulator confirms the communication effectiveness of our causal broadcast protocol in terms of latency and message traffic reduction

Graceful Degradation

Gracefully degrading algorithms was introduced by Biely et al.i. Such algorithms offer the desirable properties to circumvent impossibility results in dynamic systems by adapting themselves to the dynamics. Indeed, such a algorithms solve a given problem under some dynamics and, moreover, guarantees that a weaker (but related) problem is solved under a higher dynamics under which the original problem is impossible to solve. The underlying intuition is to solve the problem whenever possible but to provide some kind of quality of service if the dynamics become (unpredictably) higher.

In [36], we apply for the first time this approach to robot networks. We focus on the fundamental problem of gathering a squad of autonomous robots on an unknown location of a dynamic ring. In this goal, we introduce a set of weaker variants of this problem. Motivated by a set of impossibility results related to the dynamics of the ring, we propose a gracefully degrading gathering algorithm.

Unreliable Hints

In [23], we address the question of a mobile agent deterministically searching for a target in the Euclidean plane. We assume that the mobile agent is equipped with a compass and a measure of length has to find an inert treasure in the Euclidean plane. Both the agent and the treasure are modeled as points. In the beginning, the agent is at a distance at most D>0 from the treasure, but knows neither the distance nor any bound on it. Finding the treasure means getting at distance at most 1 from it. The agent makes a series of moves. Each of them consists in moving straight in a chosen direction at a chosen distance. In the beginning and after each move the agent gets a hint consisting of a positive angle smaller than 2π whose vertex is at the current position of the agent and within which the treasure is contained. We investigate the problem of how these hints permit the agent to lower the cost of finding the treasure, using a deterministic algorithm, where the cost is the worst-case total length of the agent’s trajectory. It is well known that without any hint the optimal (worst case) cost is Θ(D2). We show that if all angles given as hints are at most π, then the cost can be lowered to O(D), which is optimal. If all angles are at most β, where β<2π is a constant unknown to the agent, then the cost is at most O(D2-ϵ), for some ϵ>0. For both these positive results we present deterministic algorithms achieving the above costs. Finally, if angles given as hints can be arbitrary, smaller than 2π, then we show that cost Θ(D2) cannot be beaten.

Gathering of Mobile Agents

Gathering a group of mobile agents is a fundamental task in the field of distributed and mobile systems. It consists of bringing agents that initially start from different positions to meet all together in finite time. In the case when there are only two agents, the gathering problem is often referred to as the rendezvous problem.

In [14] and [22], we consider these tasks from a deterministic point of view in networks modeled as undirected and anonymous graphs. An adversary chooses the initial nodes of the agents (the number of agents may be larger than the number of nodes) and assigns a different positive integer (called label) to each of them. Initially, each agent knows its label as well as some global knowledge shared by all the agents. The agents can communicate with each other only when located at the same node.

This task has been considered in the literature under two alternative scenarios: weak and strong. Under the weak scenario, agents may meet either at a node or inside an edge. Under the strong scenario, they have to meet at a node, and they do not even notice meetings inside an edge. Gathering and rendezvous algorithms under the strong scenario are known for synchronous agents. For asynchronous agents, gathering and rendezvous under the strong scenario are impossible even in the two-node graph, and hence only algorithms under the weak scenario were constructed.

In [14] we show that rendezvous under the strong scenario is possible for agents with asynchrony restricted in the following way: agents have the same measure of time but the adversary can impose, for each agent and each edge, the speed of traversing this edge by this agent. The speeds may be different for different edges and different agents but all traversals of a given edge by a given agent have to be at the same imposed speed. We construct a deterministic rendezvous algorithm for such agents, working in time polynomial in the size of the graph, in the length of the smaller label, and in the largest edge traversal time.

Gathering mobile agents can be made drastically more difficult to achieve when some agents are subject to faults, especially the Byzantine ones that are known as being the worst faults to handle. Byzantine means that the agent is subject to unpredictable and arbitrary faults. For instance, such an agent may choose to never stop or to never move. In [22] we study the task of Byzantine gathering among synchronous agents under the strong scenario: despite the presence of f Byzantine agents, all the other (correct) agents have to meet at the same node. In this respect, assuming that the agents are in a strong team i.e., a team in which the number of correct agents is at least some prescribed value that is quadratic in f, we show an algorithm that solves Byzantine gathering with all strong teams in all graphs of size at most n, for any integers n and f, in a time polynomial in n and the length |lmin| of the binary representation of the smallest label of a good agent. The algorithm works using a global knowledge of size 𝒪(logloglogn), which we prove to be of optimal order of magnitude in our context to reach a time complexity that is polynomial in n and |lmin|.

Self-Stabilizing Minimum Diameter Spanning Tree

In [13], we present a self-stabilizing algorithm for the minimum diameter spanning tree construction problem in the state model. Our protocol has the following attractive features. It is the first algorithm for this problem that operates under the unfair and distributed adversary (or daemon). In other words, no restriction is made on the asynchronous behavior of the system. Second, our algorithm needs only O(logn) bits of memory per process (where n is the number of processes), that improves the previous result by a factor n. These features are not achieved to the detriment of the convergence time, which stays polynomial.