Книга: Distributed operating systems

3.5.2. Distributed Deadlock Prevention

3.5.2. Distributed Deadlock Prevention

Deadlock prevention consists of carefully designing the system so that deadlocks are structurally impossible. Various techniques include allowing processes to hold only one resource at a time, requiring processes to request all their resources initially, and making processes release all resources when asking for a new one. All of these are cumbersome in practice. A method that sometimes works is to order all the resources and require processes to acquire them in strictly increasing order. This approach means that a process can never hold a high resource and ask for a low one, thus making cycles impossible.

However, in a distributed system with global time and atomic transactions, two other practical algorithms are possible. Both are based on the idea of assigning each transaction a global timestamp at the moment it starts. As in many timestamp-based algorithms, in these two it is essential that no two transactions are ever assigned exactly the same timestamp. As we have seen, Lamport's algorithm guarantees uniqueness (effectively by using process numbers to break ties).

The idea behind the algorithm is that when one process is about to block waiting for a resource that another process is using, a check is made to see which has a larger timestamp (i.e., is younger). We can then allow the wait only if the waiting process has a lower timestamp (is older) than the process waited for. In this manner, following any chain of waiting processes, the timestamps always increase, so cycles are impossible. Alternatively, we can allow processes to wait only if the waiting process has a higher timestamp (is younger) than the process waited for, in which case the timestamps decrease along the chain.

Although both methods prevent deadlocks, it is wiser to give priority to older processes. They have run longer, so the system has a larger investment in them, and they are likely to hold more resources. Also, a young process that is killed off will eventually age until it is the oldest one in the system, so this choice eliminates starvation. As we have pointed out before, killing a transaction is relatively harmless, since by definition it can be restarted safely later.

To make this algorithm clearer, consider the situation of Fig. 3-25. In (a), an old process wants a resource held by a young process. In (b), a young process wants a resource held by an old process. In one case we should allow the process to wait; in the other we should kill it. Suppose that we label (a) dies and (b) wait. Then we are killing off an old process trying to use a resource held by a young process, which is inefficient. Thus we must label it the other way, as shown in the figure. Under these conditions, the arrows always point in the direction of increasing transaction numbers, making cycles impossible. This algorithm is called wait-die.


Fig. 3-25. The wait-die deadlock prevention algorithm.

Once we are assuming the existence of transactions, we can do something that had previously been forbidden: take resources away from running processes. In effect we are saying that when a conflict arises, instead of killing the process making the request, we can kill the resource owner. Without transactions, killing a process might have severe consequences, since the process might have modified files, for example. With transactions, these effects will vanish magically when the transaction dies.

Now consider the situation of Fig. 3-26, where we are going to allow preemption. Given that our system believes in ancestor worship, as we discussed above, we do not want a young whippersnapper preempting a venerable old sage, so Fig. 3-26(a) and not Fig. 3-26(b) is labeled preempt. We can now safely label Fig. 3-26(b) wait. This algorithm is known as wound-wait, because one transaction is supposedly wounded (it is actually killed) and the other waits. It is unlikely that this algorithm will make it to the Nomenclature Hall of Fame.


Fig. 3-26. The wound-wait deadlock prevention algorithm.

If an old process wants a resource held by a young one, the old process preempts the young one, whose transaction is then killed, as depicted in Fig. 3-26(a). The young one probably starts up again immediately, and tries to acquire the resource, leading to Fig. 3-26(b), forcing it to wait. Contrast this algorithm with wait-die. There, if an oldtimer wants a resource held by a young squirt, the oldtimer waits politely. However, if the young one wants a resource held by the old one, the young one is killed. It will undoubtedly start up again and be killed again. This cycle may go on many times before the old one releases the resource. Wound-wait does not have this nasty property.

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