ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) definition

Contributor(s): Jose C. Elias

ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) is an acronym and mnemonic device for learning and remembering the four primary attributes ensured to any transaction by a transaction manager (which is also called a transaction monitor). These attributes are:

Atomicity. In a transaction involving two or more discrete pieces of information, either all of the pieces are committed or none are.

Consistency. A transaction either creates a new and valid state of data, or, if any failure occurs, returns all data to its state before the transaction was started.

Isolation. A transaction in process and not yet committed must remain isolated from any other transaction.

Durability. Committed data is saved by the system such that, even in the event of a failure and system restart, the data is available in its correct state.

The ACID concept is described in ISO/IEC 10026-1:1992 Section 4. Each of these attributes can be measured against a benchmark. In general, however, a transaction manager or monitor is designed to realize the ACID concept. In a distributed system, one way to achieve ACID is to use a two-phase commit (2PC), which ensures that all involved sites must commit to transaction completion or none do, and the transaction is rolled back (see rollback).

This was first published in July 2006

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