[concurrency-interest] synchronized constructors

Vitaly Davidovich vitalyd at gmail.com
Fri Dec 16 18:44:02 EST 2011

Sounds like you control publishing ... cheapest for you would be to wrap
your object in AtomicReference and lazySet it before publishing the
On Dec 16, 2011 5:57 PM, "Roland Kuhn" <rk at rkuhn.info> wrote:

> This sounds like it is impossible to construct a mutable object in a way
> so that it is immune against improper publication. If the aforementioned is
> wrong—which I hope—then would you please tell me what the cheapest way is
> of achieving this goal? One thing I could think of is just putting all
> non-final fields in another class and have a reference to that be held in a
> final field; if this works, it would be quite expensive, so any better
> solution would be welcome.
> You might ask, why have a non-final field without proper synchronization,
> so let me add that the background to this question is that in my case the
> construction of the object needs to proceed in two phases because of other
> inter-dependencies, which requires certain fields to be written to after
> the constructor has finished; they will be written to only exactly once,
> and this happens before “untrusted” client code obtains the reference (in
> program order).
> Thanks in advance,
> Roland
> On Dec 16, 2011, at 22:49 , Boehm, Hans wrote:
> Just to be clear: Safe publication for final fields requires that you do
> not make a pointer to the object available to other threads (publish it)
> before the constructor finishes.  “Safe publication” as used below is a
> slightly stronger property; you also should not communicate the pointer
> post-construction to another thread via a data race.  Avoiding them both is
> great advice, but the second one may be difficult to avoid if you need to
> give a reference to your object to code you don’t trust.  Malicious code
> could always pass the object to a third thread through a race, hoping that
> the third thread, which has no happens-before relationship to the other
> two, would find your object in an inconsistent state.  My intuition is that
> this is a rare case, but one that does occur.  When it does occur, the odds
> of an actual security hole are probably small, but so are the odds of
> proving security properties without addressing the issue.****
> ** **
> Hans****
> ** **
>  *From:* concurrency-interest-bounces at cs.oswego.edu [mailto:
> concurrency-interest-bounces at cs.oswego.edu] *On Behalf Of *Yuval Shavit
> *Sent:* Friday, December 16, 2011 11:59 AM
> *To:* Zhong Yu
> *Cc:* concurrency-interest at cs.oswego.edu
> *Subject:* Re: [concurrency-interest] synchronized constructors****
> ** **
> On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 2:10 PM, Zhong Yu <zhong.j.yu at gmail.com> wrote:***
> *
> On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 8:38 AM, Yuval Shavit <yshavit at akiban.com> wrote:
> > Several people have made the claim that you could see partially
> initialized
> > state even if the constructor were synchronized, and I don't see how this
> > could be. Yes, you could assign MyPoint myUnsafeRef before MyPoint()
> > finishes -- but if you ever tried to *use* myUnsafeRef, you would run
> into a
> > synchronized block which would then ensure that the constructor
> > happened-before whatever method you're writing. Seems to me you should
> see
> > the fully-thread-safe, not-partially-initialized object at that point.**
> **
> If the reference is unsafely published, another thread can get the
> reference early; it then calls an instance method which may obtain the
> lock before the creation thread can obtain the lock for the
> constructor. Therefore the other thread can observe the blank state.
> As Ruslan corrected me, no partial state can be observed though.****
> ** **
> Ah yes, I hadn't thought of that.****
> ** **
> So now, in order to have my class be over-achievingly thread safe, I need
> to replace my synchronized methods with a latch that waits for construction
> to finish and *then* a synchronized (this) {...}. But I probably decide
> that this is really going far out of my way to support a bad usage pattern,
> so I throw up my arms and say "you'll see either totally blank or
> post-initialization state, but not partial initialization."  But that means
> I have to guard against uninitialized state in each method, so I probably
> throw up my arms again and say "just publish the darn object safely!"  And
> then the JLS people come to me and say, "well if that's your requirement,
> why do you want a synchronized constructor?"  And suddenly the whole thing
> makes sense.****
> ** **
> This has been an interesting discussion for me! Thanks everyone. :)****
> ** **
> -Yuval****
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