From my understanding, the consistency in ACID is ensuring the data integrity.

However, the consistency in CAP means the data can appear quickly in distributed system.

Does that mean: they are not the same concept?

3 Answers 3


They are not really the same, because of the scope of the data



  • Consistency (All Nodes Have Same Data via Eventual Consistency)
  • Availability
  • Partition-Tolerance : system continues to operate despite arbitrary message loss or failure of part of the system


  • ACID addresses an individual node's data consistency
  • CAP addresses cluster-wide data consistency
  • 2
    Eventual. Eventual should have been in bold, Rolando. It's the deal-breaker :) Happy New Year!
    – Philᵀᴹ
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 4:30

CAP theorem: specifies that a distributed system can provide two services (ex. Availability and Partition tolerance) but never three. If for example, a service provides Availability and Partitioning it can never ensure Consistency, not immediately, thus Eventual Consistency is used, which allows the infrastructure to flux between inconsistency and consistency, however at one point, sooner or later, the infrastructure will become consistent, resulting in eventual consistency. Cloud services work in such fashion and Amazon's Simple DB uses eventual consistency.

ACID features are usually applied to relational DBs. If you want to apply ACID in a distributed fashion (distributed DB), ACID uses 2PC(two-phase commit) to force consistency across partitions. However since ACID provides consistency and partitioning, applying the CAP theorem for (distributed environments) this will mean that availability is compromised.

Because of this, BASE (Basically available, soft state, eventually consistent) is used which can provide levels of scalability that cannot be obtained with ACID.

Hope this helps.


Regarding Consistency in the CAP theorem Julian Brown writes in his article (http://www.julianbrowne.com/article/brewers-cap-theorem):

A service that is consistent operates fully or not at all. Gilbert and Lynch use the word “atomic” instead of consistent in their proof, which makes more sense technically because, strictly speaking, consistent is the C in ACID as applied to the ideal properties of database transactions and means that data will never be persisted that breaks certain pre-set constraints. But if you consider it a preset constraint of distributed systems that multiple values for the same piece of data are not allowed then I think the leak in the abstraction is plugged (plus, if Brewer had used the word atomic, it would be called the AAP theorem and we’d all be in hospital every time we tried to pronounce it).

Thus the C in CAP would correspond to the A in ACID.

With Gilbert and Lynch he refers to the article "Seth Gilbert and Nancy Lynch: Brewer's conjecture and the feasibility of consistent, available, partition-tolerant web services"

  • 2
    The CAP consistency applies to a distributed system, whereas ACID abstracts itself from that level of the system architecture. CAP consistency may be necessary for the implementation of ACID atomicity, but it's not the same thing.
    – mustaccio
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 19:34
  • Since Brewer him self puts his CAP theorem in relation to ACID (people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~brewer/cs262b-2004/PODC-keynote.pdf Page 2&3) I think it is perfectly valid to look deeper into the correlation between the both. Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 12:49

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