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A Strategy to Manage Cache Consistency in a Disconnected Distributed Environment
July 2001 (vol. 12 no. 7)
pp. 686-700

Abstract—Modern distributed systems involving large number of nonstationary clients (mobile hosts, MH) connected via unreliable low-bandwidth communication channels are very prone to frequent disconnections. This disconnection may occur because of different reasons: The clients may voluntarily switch off (to save battery power), or a client may be involuntarily disconnected due to its own movement in a mobile network (hand-off, wireless link failures, etc.). A mobile computing environment is characterized by slow wireless links and relatively underprivileged hosts with limited battery powers. Still, when data at the server changes, the client hosts must be made aware of this fact in order for them to invalidate their cache, otherwise the host would continue to answer queries with the cached values returning incorrect data. The nature of the physical medium coupled with the fact that disconnections from the network are very frequent in mobile computing environments demand a cache invalidation strategy with minimum possible overheads. In this paper, we present a new cache maintenance scheme, called AS. The objective of the proposed scheme is to minimize the overhead for the MHs to validate their cache upon reconnection, to allow stateless servers, and to minimize the bandwidth requirement. The general approach is 1) to use asynchronous invalidation messages and 2) to buffer invalidation messages from servers at the MH's Home Location Cache (HLC) while the MH is disconnected from the network and redeliver these invalidation messages to the MH when it gets reconnected to the network. Use of asynchronous invalidation messages minimizes access latency, buffering of invalidation messages minimizes the overhead of validating MH's cache after each disconnection and use of HLC off-loads the overhead of maintaining state of MH's cache from the servers. The MH can be disconnected from the server either voluntarily or involuntarily. We capture the effects of both by using a single parameter s: The percentage of time a mobile host is disconnected from the network. We demonstrate the efficacy of our scheme through simulation and performance modeling. In particular, we show that the average data access latency and the number of uplink requests by a MH decrease by using the proposed strategy at the cost of using buffer space at the HLC. We provide analytical comparison between our proposed scheme and the existing scheme for cache management in a mobile environment [4]. Extensive experimental results are provided to compare the schemes in terms of performance metrics like latency, number of uplink requests, etc., under both a high and a low rate of change of data at servers for various values of the parameter $s$. A mathematical model for the scheme is developed which matches closely with the simulation results.

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Index Terms:
Caching, client-server computing, data consistency, mobile computing, performance analysis.
Anurag Kahol, Sumit Khurana, Sandeep K.S. Gupta, Pradip K. Srimani, "A Strategy to Manage Cache Consistency in a Disconnected Distributed Environment," IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. 686-700, July 2001, doi:10.1109/71.940744
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