[concurrency-interest] when is safe publication safe?

Jochen Theodorou blackdrag at gmx.org
Sun Apr 25 11:48:57 EDT 2010

Doug Lea wrote:
> On 04/25/10 05:31, Jochen Theodorou wrote:
>>> As a first step, consider exactly what effects/semantics you want
>>> here, and the ways you intend people to be able to write conditionally
>>> correct Groovy code.
>> People wouldn't have to write conditionally correct Groovy code. they
>> would write normal code as they would in Java (Groovy and Java are very
>> near).
> It seems implausible that you could do enough
> analysis at load/run time to determine whether you need
> full locking in the presence of multithreaded racy initialization
> vs much cheaper release fences. This would require at least some
> high-quality escape analysis. And the code generated
> would differ both for the writing and reading callers.

maybe I did explain it not good. Let us assume I have the Groovy code:


Then this is really something along the lines of:


and SBA.getMetaClassOf(1) would return the meta class of Integer. Since 
this is purely a runtime construct, it does not exist until the first 
time this meta class is requested. So getMetaClassOf would be the place 
to initialize the meta class, that would register it in a global 
structure and on subsequent invocation use that cached meta class. If 
two threads execute the code above, then one would do the 
initialization, while the other has to wait. The waiting thread would 
then read the initialized global meta class. On subsequent invocations 
both threads would just read. Since changes of the meta class are rare, 
we would in 99% of all cases simply read the existing value. Since we 
have to be memory aware, these meta class can be unloaded at runtime 
too. They are SoftReferenced so it is done only if really needed. But 
rather than the normal change a reinitialization might be needed much 
more often.

As you see the user code "1+1" does contain zero synchronization code. 
The memory barriers are all in the runtime. It is not that this cannot 
be solved by using what Java already has, it is that this is too expensive.

> As I mentioned, an alternative is to lay down some rules.
> If people stick to the rules they get consistent (in the sense
> of data-race-free) executions, else they might not. And of
> such rules, I think the ones that can apply here amount
> to saying that other threads performing initializations cannot
> trust any of their reads of the partially initialized object.
> And further, they cannot leak refs to that object outside of the
> group of initializer threads.
> This is not hugely different than the Swing threading rules
> (http://java.sun.com/products/jfc/tsc/articles/threads/threads1.html)
> but applies only during initialization.

but unlike what the above may suggest there is no single initialization 
phase. The meta classes are created on demand. We cannot know beforehand 
which meta classes are needed and doing them all before starting would 
increase the startup time big times.

If there were of course a way to recognize a partially initialized 
object I could maybe think of something... but is there a reliable one?

bye blackdrag

Jochen "blackdrag" Theodorou
The Groovy Project Tech Lead (http://groovy.codehaus.org)

More information about the Concurrency-interest mailing list