Applying Reflective Consistency to Software Transactional Memory

22 Jul 2019

This post will describe adding reflective consistency to a software transactional memory (STM) implementation in go.

The package implements STM for go. The important function is verify, which checks that all of the read STM variables in the current transaction still hold the same values (it does this by tracking and comparing a version number). This logic is triggered inside Atomically, the ‘runner’ for atomic transactions. Adding reflective consistency to Atomically is simple:

@@ -189,6 +190,11 @@ func catchRetry(fn func(*Tx), tx *Tx) (retry bool) {

+var commit_attempts = 0
+var anomalies = 0
+var target_anomaly_rate = 0.05
 // Atomically executes the atomic function fn.
 func Atomically(fn func(*Tx)) {
@@ -204,9 +210,18 @@ retry:
        // verify the read log
+       commit_attempts += 1
        if !tx.verify() {
-               globalLock.Unlock()
-               goto retry
+               anomaly_rate := float64(anomalies) / float64(commit_attempts)
+               if anomaly_rate >= target_anomaly_rate {
+                       globalLock.Unlock()
+                       goto retry
+               } else {
+                       anomalies += 1
+               }

Now, 5% of transactions which should not be allowed (due to stale versions) are allowed to commit.

I have not found any great application for this code yet. An ideal application would have expensive retries (meaning allowing 5% through will speed things up) and not too high cost of stale data (meaning 5% anomalies don’t cause too much trouble for the program or its users).

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