[concurrency-interest] DirectByteBuffers and reachabilityFence

Justin Sampson jsampson at guidewire.com
Wed Dec 9 20:14:07 EST 2015

David Holmes wrote:

> You are right about the intent here. I just found what seems to be
> a major error in the JLS in regards to JSR-133. Here is the text
> that was supposed to be included in the JLS update by JSR-133:
> "An object cannot be considered finalizable until all of its
> constructors have finished. The constructor for class Object must
> be invoked and complete normally in order for the object to be
> finalizable; other constructors may terminate by throwing
> exceptions."
> http://www.cs.umd.edu/~pugh/java/memoryModel/jsr133.pdf
> But that isn't what it says in JLS 12.6.1!

As you pointed out earlier, that's just talking about whether an
exception during construction prevents finalization. That PDF and
the JLS both agree that an object can't be finalized at all if its
capital-O Object constructor didn't complete normally.

The happens-before relationship is stated very explicitly, not once
but _twice_ in the JLS. It is stated in 12.6, as I quoted earlier,
and stated again in 17.4.5 as the second bullet point in the very
definition of happens-before itself! It's stated even earlier than
the fact that synchronizes-with also implies happens-before:

  "If we have two actions x and y, we write hb(x, y) to indicate
  that x happens-before y.

  * If x and y are actions of the same thread and x comes before y
    in program order, then hb(x, y).

  * There is a happens-before edge from the end of a constructor of
    an object to the start of a finalizer (§12.6) for that object.

  * If an action x synchronizes-with a following action y, then we
    also have hb(x, y).

  * If hb(x, y) and hb(y, z), then hb(x, z)."


In summary, we agree that an object can _become finalizable_ before
completion of its constructor, if the Object constructor completed
normally and the object is otherwise no longer reachable. But the
definition of happens-before makes it very clear that whenever the
finalizer _does_ run, it will see all writes from the remainder of
the constructor and none of its writes will be visible within the


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