Performance aspects of distributed caches using TTL-based consistency

Edith Cohen*, Eran Halperin, Haim Kaplan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The web is the largest distributed database deploying time-to-live-based weak consistency. Each object has a lifetime-duration assigned to it by its origin server. A copy of the object fetched from its origin server is received with maximum time-to-live (TTL) that equals its lifetime duration. In contrast a copy obtained through a cache have shorter TTL since the age (elapsed time since fetched from the origin) is deducted from its lifetime duration. A request served by a cache constitutes a hit if the cache has a fresh copy of the object. Otherwise, the request is considered a miss and is propagated to another server. It is evident that the number of cache misses depends on the age of the copies the cache receives. Thus, a cache that sends requests to another cache would suffer more misses than a cache that sends requests directly to an authoritative server. In this paper, we model and analyze the effect of age on the performance of various cache configurations. We consider a low-level cache that fetches objects either from their origin servers or from other caches and analyze its miss-rate as function of its fetching policy. We distinguish between three basic fetching policies, namely, fetching always from the origin, fetching always from the same high-level cache, and fetching from a "random" high-level cache. We explore the relationships between these policies in terms of the miss-rate achieved by the low-level cache, both on worst-case sequences, and on sequences generated using particular probability distributions. Guided by web caching practice, we consider two variations of the basic policies. In the first variation the high-level cache uses pre-term refreshes to keep a copy with lower age. In the second variation the low-level cache uses extended lifetime duration. We analyze how these variations affect the miss-rates. Our theoretical results help to understand how age may affect the miss-rate, and imply guidelines for improving performance of web caches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-96
Number of pages24
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2005
EventAutomata, Languages and Programming - Hersonissos, Greece
Duration: 8 Jul 200112 Jul 2001


  • Cache consistency
  • Caching hierarchy
  • Miss-rate
  • Time-to-live
  • Web caching


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