A Classification of Weak Asynchronous Models of Distributed Computing

Authors Javier Esparza , Fabian Reiter

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Author Details

Javier Esparza
  • Technical University of Munich, Germany
Fabian Reiter
  • LIGM, Université Gustave Eiffel, Marne-la-Vallée, France


The authors thank Ahmed Bouajjani for many interesting discussions, and several anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback.

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Javier Esparza and Fabian Reiter. A Classification of Weak Asynchronous Models of Distributed Computing. In 31st International Conference on Concurrency Theory (CONCUR 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 171, pp. 10:1-10:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


We conduct a systematic study of asynchronous models of distributed computing consisting of identical finite-state devices that cooperate in a network to decide if the network satisfies a given graph-theoretical property. Models discussed in the literature differ in the detection capabilities of the agents residing at the nodes of the network (detecting the set of states of their neighbors, or counting the number of neighbors in each state), the notion of acceptance (acceptance by halting in a particular configuration, or by stable consensus), the notion of step (synchronous move, interleaving, or arbitrary timing), and the fairness assumptions (non-starving, or stochastic-like). We study the expressive power of the combinations of these features, and show that the initially twenty possible combinations fit into seven equivalence classes. The classification is the consequence of several equi-expressivity results with a clear interpretation. In particular, we show that acceptance by halting configuration only has non-trivial expressive power if it is combined with counting, and that synchronous and interleaving models have the same power as those in which an arbitrary set of nodes can move at the same time. We also identify simple graph properties that distinguish the expressive power of the seven classes.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Automata extensions
  • Theory of computation → Concurrency
  • Theory of computation → Distributed computing models
  • Asynchrony
  • Concurrency theory
  • Weak models of distributed computing


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