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Publication# Concurrent Search Data Structures Can Be Blocking and Practically Wait-Free

Abstract

We argue that there is virtually no practical situation in which one should seek a "theoretically wait-free" algorithm at the expense of a state-of-the-art blocking algorithm in the case of search data structures: blocking algorithms are simple, fast, and can be made "practically wait-free". We draw this conclusion based on the most exhaustive study of blocking search data structures to date. We consider (a) different search data structures of different sizes, (b) numerous uniform and non-uniform workloads, representative of a wide range of practical scenarios, with different percentages of update operations, (c) with and without delayed threads, (d) on different hardware technologies, including processors providing HTM instructions. We explain our claim that blocking search data structures are practically wait-free through an analogy with the birthday paradox, revealing that, in state-of-the-art algorithms implementing such data structures, the probability of conflicts is extremely small. When conflicts occur as a result of context switches and interrupts, we show that HTM-based locks enable blocking algorithms to cope with them

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Ontological neighbourhood

Data structure

In computer science, a data structure is a data organization, management, and storage format that is usually chosen for efficient access to data. More precisely, a data structure is a collection of data values, the relationships among them, and the functions or operations that can be applied to the data, i.e., it is an algebraic structure about data. Data structures serve as the basis for abstract data types (ADT). The ADT defines the logical form of the data type. The data structure implements the physical form of the data type.

Tree (data structure)

In computer science, a tree is a widely used abstract data type that represents a hierarchical tree structure with a set of connected nodes. Each node in the tree can be connected to many children (depending on the type of tree), but must be connected to exactly one parent, except for the root node, which has no parent (i.e., the root node as the top-most node in the tree hierarchy). These constraints mean there are no cycles or "loops" (no node can be its own ancestor), and also that each child can be treated like the root node of its own subtree, making recursion a useful technique for tree traversal.

Array (data structure)

In computer science, an array is a data structure consisting of a collection of elements (values or variables), of same memory size, each identified by at least one array index or key. An array is stored such that the position of each element can be computed from its index tuple by a mathematical formula. The simplest type of data structure is a linear array, also called one-dimensional array. For example, an array of ten 32-bit (4-byte) integer variables, with indices 0 through 9, may be stored as ten words at memory addresses 2000, 2004, 2008, .

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