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The CAP Theorem

The CAP Theorem, also known as Brewer's Theorem, is a fundamental principle in distributed systems that describes the trade-offs that systems must make when providing consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. It states that it is impossible for a distributed data store to simultaneously provide all three of the following guarantees:

  1. Consistency (C): Every read receives the most recent write or an error. This means that all nodes see the same data at the same time.
  2. Availability (A): Every request (read or write) receives a (non-error) response, without guarantee that it contains the most recent write.
  3. Partition Tolerance (P): The system continues to operate despite an arbitrary number of messages being dropped (or delayed) by the network between nodes.

Understanding the CAP Theorem

In essence, the CAP theorem asserts that in the presence of a network partition (where communication between nodes is lost or delayed), a distributed system has to choose between consistency and availability.

Example Scenarios

  1. Scenario with Consistency and Availability (CA):

    • Description: The system ensures that data is consistent across all nodes and that the system is available as long as there is no network partition.
    • Example: A single-node relational database like MySQL. It ensures data consistency and high availability within a single node but doesn't handle network partitions as it's not distributed.
  2. Scenario with Consistency and Partition Tolerance (CP):

    • Description: The system ensures data consistency across all nodes even in the presence of network partitions, but might sacrifice availability (some nodes may not respond).
    • Example: HBase or MongoDB configured for strong consistency. In case of a network partition, the system might reject writes or reads to ensure consistency, leading to reduced availability.
  3. Scenario with Availability and Partition Tolerance (AP):

    • Description: The system remains available even during network partitions, but data may not be consistent across all nodes.
    • Example: Cassandra or CouchDB. These systems are designed to be always available and partition tolerant, but during partitions, the data might not be consistent until the partition heals.

Practical Implications

Published on: Jul 08, 2024, 08:57 AM  
 

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