2315: Eventual Consistency
Title text: Later I'm going to get a head start on the heat bath.
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The stated task is to "test the database" and "guarantee eventual consistency". Trying to avoid work, Cueball points out that the second law of thermodynamics itself "guarantees eventual consistency", as the universe is guaranteed to eventually die a heat death, at maximum entropy and perfect consistency. His boss responds that in a system that has reached maximum entropy, no work can be performed (as this requires a difference in energy states between two sources). Cueball claims that he's simply getting a head start on this.
Eventual consistency has a double meaning here. In computing, many systems are distributed (spread out) across multiple servers, sometimes in very different parts of the world. When data changes -- like the number of views on a video or the likes on a social media post -- updating it across every server can be a challenge, and it's often not necessary to keep the data perfectly in sync everywhere. So the system will use eventual consistency instead. Each individual server will record changes, and after a certain amount of time or a certain amount of change, the results will be synced across the whole network. At any given moment, an individual server's data will be a little off -- but eventually everything will get recorded correctly.
The title text constitutes another play on the words "heat bath", which can refer to the thermally uniform state of the universe at heat death. However, in this context, we can assume Cueball instead plans to prepare a literal warm bath for his own relaxation and enjoyment after or during (or instead of) his work.
|This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.|
- [Cueball sits at a home desk.]
- Laptop: I know it's hard to focus right now, but we should try to finish testing the DB.
- Cueball: Ughhhh.
- Cueball: Okay.
- Laptop: The system needs to guarantee eventual consistency.
- Cueball: I mean, it does.
- [Closeup of Cueball.]
- Cueball: Eventual consistency is guaranteed by the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
- Cueball: Sooner or later this will all be a uniform heat bath.
- Cueball: Maximum entropy.
- [Back to Cueball and desk. Cueball is leaning back in his chair.]
- Laptop: Maximum entropy means no useful work can be done!
- Cueball: I'm getting a head start by doing no useful work now.
- Randall has previously invoked the second law of thermodynamics (indirectly) to provide a "big picture" solution to the halting problem in 1266: Halting Problem, concluding that (in the real world, rather than the case of the ideal infinite Turing machine) all programs do halt...eventually.
- In 2282: Coronavirus Worries, Randall asserted that worrying about "whether you're getting enough work done" is common but not very healthy. Evidently Cueball has taken his advice to heart, but Cueball's boss has not.
- A new header text (Black Lives Matter) appeared earlier on the day that this comic debuted.
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