Spire: A Cooperative, Phase-Symmetric Solution to Distributed Consensus
preprintposted on 08.01.2021, 22:17 by Emil Koutanov
All existing solutions to distributed consensus are organised around a Paxos-like structure wherein processes contend for exclusive leadership in one phase, and then either use their dominant position to propose a value in the next phase or elect an alternate leader. This approach may be characterised as adversarial and phase-asymmetric, requiring distinct message schemas and process behaviours for each phase. In over three decades of research, no algorithm has diverged from this basic model, alluding to it perhaps being the only viable solution to consensus. This paper presents a new consensus algorithm named Spire, characterised by a phase-symmetric, cooperative structure. Processes do not contend for leadership; instead, they collude to iteratively establish a dominant value and may do so concurrently without conflicting. Each successive iteration is structured identically to the previous, employing the same messages and invoking the same behaviour. By these characteristics, Spire buckles the trend in protocol design, proving that at least two disjoint cardinal solutions to consensus exist. The resulting phase symmetry halves the number of distinct messages and behaviours, offering a clear intuition and an approachable foundation for learning consensus and building practical systems.