When using Git to store documents distributed and decentralized it can be considered as a database.

How would the ACID properties and the CAP theorem correspond to git in this case?

I think one has to distinguish between a single repository and the whole network of repositories.

ACID - for a single repository:

  • A would be ok, as there are commits
  • C depends on the use case and thus is not relevant
  • I is the big question,
    • if one is using only one branch that should be fine
    • if one is considering multiple branches I would be fine if a rebase (resp. merge) without conflicts is possible to a master branch (or even all other branches) but is not fine if a rebase would result in a conflict.
  • D depends on your hard disk but should generally be fine

ACID - for a distributed setup:

  • would be the same as above plus, that I has to be seen with respect to all other clones on the network of repositories


  • C
    • for a single repository this would be ok
    • looking at a distributed setup this would only be true, if every read operation is preceded by a pull.
  • A this would always be true since the local copy is always available
  • P if a pull is not possible than one has to decide whether to sacrifice A or C (as in the PACELC theorem). Also one can see if the majority of remote repositories is available and use some quorum approach.

(I understand the CAP-C more like the ACID-A, see https://dba.stackexchange.com/a/202125/147543)

Is this a valid interpretation of ACID and CAP as it is used in the database domain? Or is there already an ongoing discussion about Git with regard to ACID and CAP?

  • Apples and oranges. Git is a distributed version control system (DVCS) and not an RDBMS. According to Garcia-Molina a database is any permanent data store where the operations of Create Read, Update and Delete can be peformed safely over long periods of time. So, yes, in one sense a Git repo is a DBMS, but not an RDBMS. The terms ACID and CAP don't apply in this case - you're trying to put a square peg into a round hole! – Vérace Mar 23 '18 at 18:43
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    I don't think there is actually a restriction of ACID and CAP to RDBMS. Actually the y are applied to various NoSQL DBMS, thus why not also try to apply it to Git as per your definition from above? – white_gecko Mar 24 '18 at 12:41
  • I'll grant you it is an interesting way of look at Git, but they are two different tools designed for different tasks and comparing them in this way is, I feel, not appropriate. Many VCS's have database (RDBMS) back-ends (e.g. Bugzilla) - I don't know of anything claiming to be a database that uses Git as a back-end! :-) – Vérace Mar 24 '18 at 15:17
  • Actually there is one called Quit, Quads in Git: github.com/AKSW/QuitStore it is a graph database which stores RDF graphs in Git repositories. – white_gecko Mar 24 '18 at 20:14

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