Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2316 xkcd comics, and only 23 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Eventual Consistency
Later I'm going to get a head start on the heat bath.
Title text: Later I'm going to get a head start on the heat bath.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by an EVENTUALLY CONSISTENT BOT. First revision. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

Cueball's employer wants him to continue his work, probably[citation needed] as a home-based remote worker as encouraged by the common current advice during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. 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 retorts that in a heat death, nobody can work; 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 practical to keep the data perfectly in synch 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.


Ambox notice.png 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.]
Laptop: Maximum entropy means no useful work can be done!
Cueball: I'm getting a head start by doing no useful work now.

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.


Don't be a jerk.

There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.