Ad Hoc Synchronization Considered Harmful

Provided by: University of Idaho
Topic: Networking
Format: PDF
Many synchronizations in existing multi-threaded programs are implemented in an ad hoc way. The first part of this paper does a comprehensive characteristic study of ad hoc synchronizations in concurrent programs. By studying 229 ad hoc synchronizations in 12 programs of various types (server, desktop and scientific), including Apache, MySQL, Mozilla, etc., the authors find several interesting and perhaps alarming characteristics: every studied application uses ad hoc synchronizations. Specifically, there are 6 - 83 ad hoc synchronizations in each program. Ad hoc synchronizations are error-prone. Significant percentages (22-67%) of these ad hoc synchronizations introduced bugs or severe performance issues. Ad hoc synchronization implementations are diverse and many of them cannot be easily recognized as synchronizations, i.e. have poor readability and maintainability.

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