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Tight Bounds for Asymptotic and Approximate Consensus

Abstract : We study the performance of asymptotic and approximate consensus algorithms under harsh environmental conditions. The asymptotic consensus problem requires a set of agents to repeatedly set their outputs such that the outputs converge to a common value within the convex hull of initial values. This problem, and the related approximate consensus problem, are fundamental building blocks in distributed systems where exact consensus among agents is not required or possible, e.g., man-made distributed control systems , and have applications in the analysis of natural distributed systems, such as flocking and opinion dynamics. We prove tight lower bounds on the contraction rates of asymptotic consensus algorithms in dynamic networks, from which we deduce bounds on the time complexity of approximate consensus algorithms. In particular, the obtained bounds show optimality of asymptotic and approximate consensus algorithms presented in [Charron-Bost et al., ICALP'16] for certain dynamic networks, including the weakest dynamic network model in which asymptotic and approximate consensus are solvable. As a corollary we also obtain asymptotically tight bounds for asymptotic consensus in the classical asynchronous model with crashes. Central to our lower bound proofs is an extended notion of valency, the set of reachable limits of an asymptotic consensus algorithm starting from a given configuration. We further relate topological properties of valencies to the solvability of exact consensus , shedding some light on the relation of these three fundamental problems in dynamic networks.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 24, 2018 - 11:38:21 AM
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Matthias Függer, Thomas Nowak, Manfred Schwarz. Tight Bounds for Asymptotic and Approximate Consensus. ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC'18), Jul 2018, Egham, United Kingdom. ⟨10.1145/3212734.3212762⟩. ⟨hal-01799039⟩

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