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Clojure: High Performance JVM Programming by Akhil Wali, Shantanu Kumar, Eduardo Díaz

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Atomic updates and state

It is a common use case to read a data element, execute some logic, and update with a new value. For single-threaded programs, it bears no consequences; but for concurrent scenarios, the entire operation must be carried out in a lockstep, as an atomic operation. This case is so common that many processors support this at the hardware level using a special Compare-and-swap (CAS) instruction, which is much cheaper than locking. On x86/x64 architectures, the instruction is called CompareExchange (CMPXCHG).

Unfortunately, it is possible that another thread updates the variable with the same value that the thread, which is working on the atomic update, is going to compare the old value against. This is known as the "ABA" problem. ...

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