Byzantine Generals Problem

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A Byzantine Generals Problem is a adversarial pattern where all members of a group need to follow through on a commitment.



  • (Wikipedia, 2018) ⇒'_Problem Retrieved:2018-5-11.
    • Byzantine refers to the Byzantine Generals' Problem, an agreement problem, (described by Leslie Lamport, Robert Shostak and Marshall Pease in their 1982 paper, "The Byzantine Generals Problem"),[1] in which a group of generals, each commanding a portion of the Byzantine army, encircle a city. These generals wish to formulate a plan for attacking the city. In its simplest form, the generals must decide only whether to attack or retreat. Some generals may prefer to attack, while others prefer to retreat. The important thing is that every general agrees on a common decision, for a halfhearted attack by a few generals would become a rout and be worse than a coordinated attack or a coordinated retreat.

      The problem is complicated by the presence of traitorous generals who may not only cast a vote for a suboptimal strategy, they may do so selectively. For instance, if nine generals are voting, four of whom support attacking while four others are in favor of retreat, the ninth general may send a vote of retreat to those generals in favor of retreat, and a vote of attack to the rest. Those who received a retreat vote from the ninth general will retreat, while the rest will attack (which may not go well for the attackers). The problem is complicated further by the generals being physically separated and having to send their votes via messengers who may fail to deliver votes or may forge false votes.

      Byzantine fault tolerance can be achieved if the loyal (non-faulty) generals have a majority agreement on their strategy. There can be a default vote value given to missing messages. For example, missing messages can be given the value <Null>. Further, if the agreement is that the <Null> votes are in the majority, a pre-assigned default strategy can be used (e.g., retreat).[citation needed]

      The typical mapping of this story onto computer systems is that the computers are the generals and their digital communication system links are the messengers. Although the problem is formulated in the analogy as a decision-making and security problem, in electronics, it cannot be solved simply by cryptographic digital signatures, because failures such as incorrect voltages can propagate through the encryption process. Thus, a component may appear functioning to one component and faulty to another, which prevents forming a consensus whether the component is faulty or not.


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