Distributing changes to a dataset has two aspects: the format used to record changes and the mechanism used to propagate changes.
RDF Delta provides these into two parts:
The patch format is separate from the use as a log.
RDF Delta is an implementation of these in patch log server.
A simple use of RDF Patch is to record the changes made to a dataset. Once these are reliable recorded, that can be used for tasks such as auditing changes and incremental backups.
Each change is the addition or deletion of a triple, quad or prefix. Whether a change is applied once or multiple times, the resulting RDF is the same. An RDF graph is a set of triples - add a triple once and there is one triple in the graph; add it again, and there is still one triple in the graph.
RDF Patch files can be used for backups or to make the same changes to a different copy of the RDF database so there are two identical copies, right down to the blank nodes.
By collecting RDF patches into a ordered list of changes,
A log is a sequence of changes that has two operations:
so a log has no branches (there is only one head of the log at any one time and only one item can be added to the head to create a new head). A log is linear list of operations in the time order they were performed.
Given these two operations,
One important use case provides by RDF Delta is for high availability of servers.
High availability (HA), also called Fault Tolerance, is for providing a service in a way that is resistent to being taken offline by some of the servers used to provide the service going offline. Server may go offline because they crash, or through planned needs such as maintenance.
One way to achieve this is to have multiple servers behind a load balancer so that clients see a single, unchanging contact point, but the machines used behind that can be changed.
RDF Delta provides this for triple stores, and there is a implement for Apache Jena Fuseki.
The patch log format records the changes as a log and these change logs are copied to the other servers so that each triple store applies exactly the same chnages, in exactly the same order to create identical database copies (this includes blank node identifiers used within the databases).