On the complexity of asynchronous gossip

Chryssis Georgiou, Seth Gilbert, Rachid Guerraoui, Dariusz R. Kowalski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

35 Scopus citations


In this paper, we study the complexity of gossip in an asynchronous, message-passing fault-prone distributed system. In short, we show that an adaptive adversary can significantly hamper the spreading of a rumor, while an oblivious adversary cannot. This latter fact implies that there exist message-efficient asynchronous (randomized) consensus protocols, in the context of an oblivious adversary. In more detail, we summarize our results as follows. If the adversary is adaptive, we show that a randomized asynchronous gossip algorithm cannot terminate in fewer than O(f{d + δ)) time steps unless Ω(n + f2) messages are exchanged, where n is the total number of processes, f is the number of tolerated crash failures, d is the maximum communication delay for the specific execution in question, and δ is the bound on relative process speeds in the specific execution. The lower bound result is to be contrasted with deterministic synchronous gossip algorithms that, even against an adaptive adversary, require only O(polylog(n)) time steps and O(n polylog(n)) messages. In the case of an oblivious adversary, we present three different randomized, asynchronous algorithms that provide different trade-offs between time complexity and message complexity. The first algorithm is based on the epidemic paradigm, and completes in O(n/n-f log2 n(d + δ)) time steps using O(n log3 n(d+δ)) messages, with high probability. The second algorithm relies on more rapid dissemination of the rumors, yielding a constant-time (w.r.t. n) gossip protocol: for every constant ε < 1, and for f ≤ n/2, there is a variant with time complexity O(1/ε(d +δ)) and message complexity

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPODC'08
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 27th Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781595939890
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event27th ACM SIGACT-SIGOPS Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: Aug 18 2008Aug 21 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing


Conference27th ACM SIGACT-SIGOPS Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing
CityToronto, ON


  • Adaptive versus oblivious adversary
  • Asynchrony
  • Complexity
  • Consensus
  • Epidemic
  • Gossip
  • Randomization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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