An Equational Theory for Transactions

  • Andrew P. Black
  • Vincent Cremet
  • Rachid Guerraoui
  • Martin Odersky
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2914)


Transactions are commonly described as being ACID: All-or-nothing, Consistent, Isolated and Durable. However, although these words convey a powerful intuition, the ACID properties have never been given a precise semantics in a way that disentangles each property from the others. Among the benefits of such a semantics would be the ability to trade-off the value of a property against the cost of its implementation. This paper gives a sound equational semantics for the transaction properties. We define three categories of actions, A-actions, I-actions and D-actions, while we view Consistency as an induction rule that enables us to derive system-wide consistency from local consistency. The three kinds of action can be nested, leading to different forms of transactions, each with a well-defined semantics. Conventional transactions are then simply obtained as ADI-actions. From the equational semantics we develop a formal proof principle for transactional programs, from which we derive the induction rule for Consistency.


Canonical Form Equational Theory Parallel Composition Concurrency Control Atomic Action 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew P. Black
    • 1
  • Vincent Cremet
    • 2
  • Rachid Guerraoui
    • 2
  • Martin Odersky
    • 2
  1. 1.OGI School of Science & EngineeringOregon Health and Science University 
  2. 2.Ecole polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) 

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