Basic algorithm

Commit request phase

or voting phase

  1. The coordinator sends a query to commit message to all cohorts and waits until it has received a reply from all cohorts.
  2. The cohorts execute the transaction up to the point where they will be asked to commit. They each write an entry to their undo log and an entry to their.
  3. Each cohort replies with an agreement message (cohort votes Yes to commit), if the cohort’s actions succeeded, or an abort message (cohort votes No, not to commit), if the cohort experiences a failure that will make it impossible to commit.
Commit phase or Completion phase


If the coordinator received an agreement message from all cohorts during the commit-request phase:

  1. The coordinator sends a commit message to all the cohorts.
  2. Each cohort completes the operation, and releases all the locks and resources held during the transaction.
  3. Each cohort sends an acknowledgment to the coordinator.
  4. The coordinator completes the transaction when acknowledgments have been received.


If any cohort votes No during the commit-request phase (coordinator will send an abort message):

  1. The coordinator sends a rollback message to all the cohorts.
  2. Each cohort undoes the transaction using the undo log, and releases the resources and locks held during the transaction.
  3. Each cohort sends an acknowledgement to the coordinator.
  4. The coordinator undoes the transaction when all acknowledgements have been received.


The greatest disadvantage of the two-phase commit protocol is that it is a blocking protocol. A node will block while it is waiting for a message. Other processes competing for resource locks held by the blocked processes will have to wait for the locks to be released. A single node will continue to wait even if all other sites have failed. If the coordinator fails permanently, some cohorts will never resolve their transactions, causing resources to be tied up forever. The algorithm can block indefinitely in the following way:

If a cohort has sent an agreement message to the coordinator, it will block until a commit or rollback is received. If the coordinator is permanently down, the cohort will block indefinitely, unless it can obtain the global commit/abort decision from some other cohort.

When the coordinator has sent “Query-to-commit” to the cohorts, it will block until all cohorts have sent their local decision. However, if a cohort is permanently down, the coordinator will not block indefinitely: Since the coordinator is the one to decide whether the decision is ‘commit’ or ‘abort’ permanent blocking can be avoided by introducing a timeout: If the coordinator has not received all awaited messages when the timeout is over it will decide for ‘abort’. This conservative behaviour of the protocol is another disadvantage: It is biased to the abort case rather than the complete case.