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Re: srfi-18 requirements

From: Julian Graham
Subject: Re: srfi-18 requirements
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 15:10:48 -0500

Hi Neil,

> OK.  While looking through the docs, though, and playing with possible
> solutions, I noted a couple of other pitfalls (which the current code
> also appears to suffer from).
> 1. pthread_cond_wait() returning does not necessarily mean that the
>    cond var was signalled.  Apparently pthread_cond_wait() can return
>    early because of an interrupt.

Yes, the pthreads docs refer to this as a "spurious wakeup."

> 2. If two threads are using pthread_cond_wait and pthread_cond_signal
>    to communicate, and using the cond_var itself as a state
>    indication, they have to be certain that the pthread_cond_wait
>    starts before the pthread_cond_signal, otherwise it won't work.

Right -- holding the right mutexes when you signal / broadcast is
pretty important.

> The practical impact of these is that one shouldn't use the cond_var
> itself as an indication of "reached so-and-so state".  Instead, one
> can represent the state using an explicit variable, which is protected
> by the associated mutex, and then interpret the cond_var as indicating
> simply that the variable _might_ have changed.
> In our case, I think the state variable could be
> scm_i_thread_go_to_sleep, protected by thread_admin_mutex.  Here's a
> possible solution based on this, but it isn't yet complete, because it
> doesn't explain how num_guile_threads_awake is calculated.  (And I
> have to go to bed!)

I've come up with something similar that seems to work decently and
seems a bit simple.  See what you think (apologies for the

static scm_i_pthread_cond_t wake_up_cond;
static scm_i_pthread_mutex_t wake_up_mutex;
static int wake_up_flag = 0;
int scm_i_thread_go_to_sleep;

scm_i_thread_put_to_sleep ()
  if (threads_initialized_p)
      scm_i_thread *t;

      scm_leave_guile ();
      scm_i_pthread_mutex_lock (&thread_admin_mutex);

      wake_up_flag = 0;
      scm_i_thread_go_to_sleep = 1;
      for (t = all_threads; t; t = t->next_thread)
           scm_i_pthread_mutex_lock (&t->heap_mutex);
      scm_i_thread_go_to_sleep = 0;

scm_i_thread_wake_up ()
  if (threads_initialized_p)
      scm_i_thread *t;

      scm_i_pthread_mutex_lock (&wake_up_mutex);
      wake_up_flag = 1;
      scm_i_pthread_cond_broadcast (&wake_up_cond);
      scm_i_pthread_mutex_unlock (&wake_up_mutex);
      for (t = all_threads; t; t = t->next_thread)
           scm_i_pthread_mutex_unlock (&t->heap_mutex);
      scm_i_pthread_mutex_unlock (&thread_admin_mutex);
      scm_enter_guile ((scm_t_guile_ticket) SCM_I_CURRENT_THREAD);

scm_i_thread_sleep_for_gc ()
  scm_i_thread *t = suspend ();

  scm_i_pthread_cleanup_push ((void (*)(void *)) scm_i_pthread_mutex_unlock,
  scm_i_pthread_mutex_lock (&wake_up_mutex);
  scm_i_pthread_mutex_unlock (&t->heap_mutex);
      scm_i_pthread_cond_wait (&wake_up_cond, &wake_up_mutex);
  while (!wake_up_flag);
  scm_i_pthread_mutex_lock (&t->heap_mutex);
  scm_i_pthread_mutex_unlock (&wake_up_mutex);
  scm_i_pthread_cleanup_pop (0);
  resume (t);

> > So why hasn't this been reported before?  I'm not really sure, except
> > that based on  my logs, a GC involving more than two threads (one
> > thread stays awake, of course, to manage the collection) is kind of
> > rare.  It doesn't even necessarily happen during an entire run of my
> > SRFI-18 test suite, which lasts for several seconds and is fairly
> > multi-threaded.
> Not sure what you mean here.  Surely if there are >2 threads, they all
> have to go to sleep before GC can proceed?

Of course -- all I meant by this was that in the existing thread tests
(and in much of the SRFI-18 test code I wrote) the lifespans of
threads besides the main thread (and the signal delivery thread) are
usually short enough that they don't end up participating in this
whole co-op GC process.  Maybe we need some test code for
longer-running, guile-mode threads.  (Perhaps developers with
multi-threaded Guile application development under their belts would
care to chime in here?)

> > It *is* possible, because a thread can enter and leave guile mode and
> > do a fair number of things without SCM_TICK getting called.  I don't
> > know if that's significant or not.
> That may mean that we need some more SCM_TICK calls.  What kind of
> processing was the thread doing?

I'm not totally sure -- I'll have to add some more logs and get back
to you.  I think are definitely some places where an extra SCM_TICK
might do some good (in fat_cond_timedwait, e.g.).


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