Work-competitive scheduling for cooperative computing with dynamic groups

Chryssis Georgiou, Alexander Russell, Alexander A. Shvartsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The problem of cooperatively performing a set of t tasks in a decentralized computing environment subject to failures is one of the fundamental problems in distributed computing. The setting with partitionable networks is especially challenging, as algorithmic solutions must accommodate the possibility that groups of processors become disconnected (and, perhaps, reconnected) during the computation. The efficiency of task-performing algorithms is often assessed in terms of work: the total number of tasks, counting multiplicities, performed by all of the processors during the computation. In general, the scenario where the processors are partitioned into g disconnected components causes any task-performing algorithm to have work Ω(t . g) even if each group of processors performs no more than the optimal number of Θ(t) tasks. Given that such pessimistic lower bounds apply to any scheduling algorithm, we pursue a competitive analysis. Specifically, this paper studies a simple randomized scheduling algorithm for p asynchronous processors, connected by a dynamically changing communication medium, to complete t known tasks. The performance of this algorithm is compared against that of an omniscient off-line algorithm with full knowledge of the future changes in the communication medium. The paper describes a notion of computation width, which associates a natural number with a history of changes in the communication medium, and shows both upper and lower bounds on work-competitiveness in terms of this quantity. Specifically, it is shown that the simple randomized algorithm obtains the competitive ratio (1 + cw/e), where cw is the computation width and e is the base of the natural logarithm (e = 2.7182. . . ); this competitive ratio is then shown to be tight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-862
Number of pages15
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Competitive analysis
  • Distributed computation
  • Independent tasks
  • On-line algorithms
  • Partitionable networks
  • Randomized algorithms
  • Work complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Mathematics


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