On the weekend of March 18th-19th I and a few of my fellow UBC students Gareth Ellis, Alexander Hoar, and Jeffrey Doyle worked together (and lost a ton of sleep) for the hackathon nwHacks 2017. One of the new and more prominent sponsors of the event was Cockroach Labs, creators of the distributed database CockroachDB, and we thought it'd be fun to work on a project involving CockroachDB and shoot for the "Best Use of CockroachDB" sub-contest they were running (and giving out a nice cash prize!).
CockroachDB is a SQL database that sets itself apart from other relational database systems by being distributed and really fault-tolerant. Leveraging the Raft algorithm for assuring consensus across nodes in a cluster, it's able to create a CP (consistent and partition-tolerant) system while at the same time being Highly Available (source). When I installed it for the first time in the days leading up to the hackathon I was surprised at how easy it was to set up a cluster (just set up an instance and let the other instances
join with the first one!) and use the admin interface present on each node. We decided to do a project that would exemplify CockroachDB's strengths by stress-testing a cluster, attempting to disrupt the consistency of the system.
kill -9 command on the particular instance that the cockroach was associated with. The server spawns new cockroaches (and new instances) depending on the ratio between how many cockroaches were killed and how many cockroaches have been spawned at the beginning of the game session.
Our project was quite challenging to implement and is built upon quite a few hacks, which was expected given that we are completely misusing CockroachDB on purpose. I'm really proud of the four of us for being able to finish each of our parts of the project, and integrate all of them together, within 24 hours.
Technical details below!