The Day of Four Letter Abbreviations: BASE vs ACID

Any person that has spent some time with databases will have heard the acronym ACID some time or the other. ACID is what transactions are aimed to achieve, so that you’re able to define a set of operations that are connected to each other. ACID is a definition of what these transactions should be able to provide to the user of the RDBMS.

Via xarpb I got hold of an article from ACM Queue, titled BASE: An ACID Alternative:

If ACID provides the consistency choice for partitioned databases, then how do you achieve availability instead? One answer is BASE (basically available, soft state, eventually consistent).

BASE is diametrically opposed to ACID. Where ACID is pessimistic and forces consistency at the end of every operation, BASE is optimistic and accepts that the database consistency will be in a state of flux. Although this sounds impossible to cope with, in reality it is quite manageable and leads to levels of scalability that cannot be obtained with ACID.

Proves to be a very interesting read, and something that’s very in time with how we’re already doing large partitioning of large databases, where the application tier is responsible for a lot of the distributed “transactions”.

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