Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System

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Leslie Lamport
Communications of the ACM 21(7), pages 558-565

The concept of one event happening before another in a distributed system is examined, and is shown to define a partial ordering of the events. A distributed algorithm is given for synchronizing a system of logical clocks which can be used to totally order the events. The use of the total ordering is illustrated with a method for solving synchronization problems. The algorithm is then specialized for synchronizing physical clocks, and a bound is derived on how far out of synchrony the clocks can become.

journal or series
book Communications of the ACM (CACM)