[concurrency-interest] synchronized constructors

Zhong Yu zhong.j.yu at gmail.com
Sat Dec 17 00:11:25 EST 2011

Suppose constructor java.util.Vector() is synchronized

    static Vector v;

    // thread 1
    v = new Vector();

    // thread 2
    Vector r = v;

The last line can throw exception, because thread 2 can observe the
blank state of the object, yet Vector.add() presumes a
post-construction state.

Zhong Yu

On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 7:52 PM, David Holmes <davidcholmes at aapt.net.au> wrote:
> Zhong Yu writes:
>> 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.
> The only way this can happen, if you synchronize the whole constructor body,
> is if a super class constructor does the unsafe publishing. But in that case
> there is no such thing as safe-publishing because the object can escape
> before the subclass constructor does any initialization.
> To summarize a long and garbled thread. If the constructor body is
> synchronized, there is no accessible state and all methods are synchronized,
> then no external user of the class can publish a reference in a way that is
> unsafe. If the constructor does the publishing within the synchronized
> block, it is still safe. Only if the superclass does it can it possibly be
> unsafe.
> Also to address an other point: lock elision is allowed (eg using escape
> analysis) but the memory synchronization effects must remain (you can lose
> enforced mutual exclusion [as you don't need it], but not happens-before
> edges).
> Constructors can't be synchronized simply because back in 1995 no one
> realized there could be a need for it. It can be mostly worked around by
> using a synchronized block. But you can't synchronize the invocation of the
> super constructor.
> End of story :)
> Cheers,
> David

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