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Open Nesting in Software Transactional Memory
ACM SIGPLAN 2007 Symposium on Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming (2007)
  • Eliot B. Moss, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Transactional memory (TM) promises to simplify concurrent programming while providing scalability competitive to fine-grained locking. Language-based constructs allow programmers to denote atomic regions declaratively and to rely on the underlying system to provide transactional guarantees along with concurrency. In contrast with fine-grained locking, TM allows programmers to write simpler programs that are composable and deadlock-free. TM implementations operate by tracking loads and stores to memory and by detecting concurrent conflicting accesses by different transactions. By automating this process, they greatly reduce the programmer's burden, but they also are forced to be conservative. Incertain cases, conflicting memory accesses may not actually violate the higher-level semantics of a program, and a programmer may wish to allow seemingly conflicting transactions to execute concurrently. Open nested transactions enable expert programmers to differentiate between physical conflicts, at the level of memory, and logical conflicts that actually violate application semantics. A TMsystem with open nesting can permit physical conflicts that are not logical conflicts, and thus increase concurrency among application threads. Here we present an implementation of open nested transactions in a Java-based software transactional memory (STM)system. We describe new language constructs to support open nesting in Java, and we discuss new abstract locking mechanisms that a programmer can use to prevent logical conflicts. We demonstrate how these constructs can be mapped efficiently to existing STM data structures. Finally, we evaluate our system on a set of Java applications and data structures, demonstrating how open nesting can enhance application scalability.

Publication Date
March, 2007
Citation Information
Eliot B. Moss. "Open Nesting in Software Transactional Memory" ACM SIGPLAN 2007 Symposium on Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming (2007)
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