Process Synchronization

A cooperating process is one that can affect or be affected by other processes executing in the system. Cooperating processes can either directly share a logical address space (that is, both code and data) or be allowed to share data only through files or messages. The former case is achieved through the use of threads, discussed in Chapter 4. Concurrent access to shared data may result in data inconsistency, however. In this chapter, we discuss various mechanisms to ensure the orderly execution of cooperating processes that share a logical address space, so that data consistency is maintained.


  • To introduce the critical-section problem, whose solutions can be used to ensure the consistency of shared data.
  • To present both software and hardware solutions of the critical-section problem.
  • To examine several classical process-synchronization problems.
  • To explore several tools that are used to solve process synchronization problems.

5.1 Background

We've already seen that processes can execute concurrently or in parallel. Section 3.2.2 introduced the role of process scheduling and described how the CPU scheduler switches rapidly between processes to provide concurrent execution. This means that one process may only partially complete execution before another process is scheduled. In fact, a process may be interrupted at any point in its instruction ...

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