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From Sylvain Lebresne <>
Subject Re: How are timestamps selected for LWTs?
Date Tue, 02 Feb 2016 10:24:40 GMT
On Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 10:46 AM, Nicholas Wilson <> wrote:

> Hi,
> In the Cassandra docs I've read, it's not described how the timestamp is
> determined for LWTs. It's not possible to specify a timestamp with "USING
> TIMESTAMP ...", and my best guess is that in the "read" phase of the LWT
> (between propose and commit) the timestamp is selected based on the
> timestamps of the cells read. However, after reading through the source
> code (mainly StorageProxy::cas) I can't any hint of that.

It's not exactly how it works, but it yields a somewhat equivalent result.
Internally, LWTs use a so call "ballot" which is timeuuid, and the
underlying algorithm basically guarantees that the order of commit of
operations is the order of their ballot. And the timestamp used for the
cells of a given of operation is the timestamp part of that timeuuid
ballot, thus guaranteeing that this timestamp respects the order in which
operations are committed.

This is why you can't provide the timestamp client side: that timestamp is
picked server side and the value picked depends on when the operation is

> I'm worried about the following problem:
> Node A writes (using a LWT): UPDATE table SET val = 123, version = 2 WHERE
> key = 'foo' IF version = 1
> Node B writes (using a LWT): UPDATE table SET val = 234, version = 3 WHERE
> key = 'foo' IF version = 2
> If the first write is completed before the second, then both updates will
> be applied, but if Node B's clock is behind Node A's clock, then the second
> update would be effectively discarded if client-generated timestamps are
> used. It wouldn't take a big clock discrepancy, the HW clocks could in fact
> be perfectly in sync, but if the kernel ticks System.currentTimeMillis() at
> 15ms intervals it's quite possible for the two nodes to be 30ms out from
> each other.
> So, after the update query has "succeeded", do you need to do a read to
> find out whether it was actually applied? That would be surprising, since I
> can't find mention of it anywhere in the docs. You'd actually have to do a
> QUORUM read after every LWT update, just to find out whether your client
> chose the timestamp sensibly.
> The ideal thing would be if Cassandra chose the timestamp for the write,
> using the timestamp of the cells read during Paxos, to guarantee that
> writes are applied if the query condition holds, rather than leaving the
> potential for the query to succeed but do nothing if the cell already has a
> higher timestamp.
> If I've misunderstood, please do correct me!
> Thanks,
> Nicholas
> ---
> Nicholas Wilson
> Software developer
> RealVNC

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