In the third page (the third paragraph in the right column) of the paper "Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System" by Leslie Lamport, it says that

The reader may find it helpful to visualize a two-dimensional spatial network of processes, which yields a three-dimensional space-time diagram. Processes and messages are still represented by lines, but tick lines become two-dimensional surfaces.

However I failed to visualize them in my head, especially the two-dimensional surfaces. Could anyone make more explanations? An illustrative picture would be excellent.


1 Answer 1


Here's my take:Lamport 3D space-time diagram

...and here's a 3D version without the nice colors.

Vertical black lines are processes; magenta lines are messages (wavy lines); spheres are events, and time is on the vertical (blue) axis. The planes are 'tick lines.'

In Dr. Lamport's original diagrams, messages are only passed between "adjacent" processes. Presumably in a real distributed system any process can send a message to any other process, but this is hard to draw clearly in a 2D diagram.

  • $\begingroup$ Very impressive and reasonable. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – hengxin
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 1:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.