Help-Optimal and Language-Portable Lock-Free Concurrent Data Structures
Paper in proceedings, 2016
Helping is a widely used technique to guarantee lock-freedom in many concurrent data structures. An optimized helping strategy improves the overall performance of a lock-free algorithm. In this paper, we propose help-optimality, which essentially implies that no operation step is accounted for exclusive helping in the lock-free synchronization of concurrent operations. To describe the concept, we revisit the designs of a lock-free linked-list and a lock-free binary search tree and present improved algorithms. Our algorithms employ atomic single-word compare-and-swap (CAS) primitives and are linearizable. We design the algorithms without using any language/platformspecific mechanism. Specifically, we use neither bit-stealing froma pointer nor runtime type introspection of objects. Thus, our algorithms are language-portable. Further, to optimize the amortized number of steps per operation, if a CAS execution tomodify a shared pointer fails, we obtain a fresh set of thread-local variables without restarting an operation from scratch. We use several micro-benchmarks in both C/C++ and Java to validate the efficiency of our algorithms against existing state-of-the-art. The experiments show that the algorithms are scalable. Our implementations perform on a par with highly optimizedones and in many cases yield 10%-50% higher throughput.
Concurrent data structure
Binary search tree