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Zero is a transactional storage manager used mainly for prototyping in Database Systems research. It supports operations on a Foster B-tree data structure with ACID semantics. Zero is designed for highly scalable, high-throughput OLTP. Being a research prototype, it does not provide certain usability features expected on a real production-level system.


Zero is a fork of Shore-MT, which itself is derived from Shore. The latter was developed in the early 90's by researchers in the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whereas the former was a continuation of the project at Carnegie Mellon University and, later on, EPFL. Shore-MT focuses on improving scalability in multi-core CPUs. Several published techniques in the database literature are based on Shore/Shore-MT, including recent and ongoing research.

Zero was developed at HP Labs. The initial milestone of the project was to implement the Foster B-tree data structure, thereby eliminating support for traditional ARIES-based B-trees and heap files. Zero also supports the Orthogonal Key-Value Locking Protocol and an improved Lock Manager design, as well as a novel swizzling technique that eliminates critical buffer manager overheads, deliviring performance comparable to in-memory systems despite being disk-based.

The latest developments in Zero are focused on Instant Recovery, a novel family of algorithms that extends the traditional ARIES design with on-demand recovery without blocking the system for new transactions, thereby significantly improving system availability. This project is developed in a collaboration between HP Labs and the University of Kaiserslautern.

For a list of publications based on the Zero storage manager, see below.



Zero is developed in C++ and uses the CMake building system. Its only dependency is on a few Boost libraries, widely available in the major Linux distributions. Currently, is it supported only on Linux.

On an Ubuntu system, the dependencies can usually be installed with the following commands:

sudo apt-get install git cmake build-essential
sudo apt-get install liboost-dev libboost-thread-dev libboost-program-options-dev libboost-random-dev

Zero requires libboost version 1.48. Please make sure that this version or a higher one is installed.


CMake supports out-of-source builds, which means that binaries are generated in a different directory than the source files. This not only maintains a clean source directory, but also allows multiple coexisting builds with different configurations.

The typical approach is to create a build folder inside the project root after cloning it with git:

git clone
cd zero
mkdir build

To generate the build files, type:

cd build
cmake ..

Alternatively, a debug version without optimizations is also supported:

cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug ..

A specific version of Boost can be specified with:

cmake -DBOOST_ROOT=<path> ..

Finally, to compile:

make -j <number_of_cores> sm

The -j flag enables compilation in parallel on multi-core CPUs. It is a standard feature of the Make building system. The sm target builds the static storage manager library, libsm.


Current status

As of February 2016, the test cases are not being maintained, so make test will likely produce compilation errors. We are working on stabilizing the source code and providing an official release with support for Instant Restart and Instant Restore soon. The Zapps tools described below were also incorporated into the Zero source tree, so that benchmarks and tools can be executed with a single code base. Please stay tuned for further updates.

Zero is designed to be used as a library for transactional applications. As such, there is no program to be executed after compilation. The generated storage manager library is libsm.a. However, the test suite can be ran with:

make test

It uses the Google Test libraries, which are embedded in the source code.

We are currently working on porting the Shore-Kits project into Zero. It is a collection of standard database benchmarks implemented on top of Shore-MT. It provides an extensible framework for statically-defined relational tables and indexes. In this migration process, we also plan to integrate various tools and experiments used in previous publications. The resulting project will be an extensible collection of application-level tools and benchmarks known as Zapps. Stay tuned and watch the repository for updates.


The following publications describe novel techniques which were implemented and evaluated on Zero:


This repository is maintained by Caetano Sauer at the University of Kaiserslautern. If you wish to experiment with Zero, feel free to contact me at Being a research prototype used by many developers over the course of two decades, getting started in the code may be a daunting task, due to the lack of thorough documentation and the high heterogeneity of the code.

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