Synchronization

Synchronization refers to the coordination of multiple processes or threads to ensure that they do not interfere with each other when accessing shared resources, such as memory, files, or devices. In operating systems, synchronization is an essential concept because multiple processes or threads may access the same resources concurrently, leading to race conditions, deadlocks, and other issues.

Synchronization Problem

One of the most common synchronization problems in operating systems is the n-process critical section problem. This problem arises when n processes or threads need to access a shared resource or critical section concurrently, but only one process can access it at a time. In other words, the processes must take turns accessing the critical section to avoid conflicts.

How to Solve n-process Critical Section Problem

To solve the n-process critical section problem, operating systems use synchronization primitives, such as semaphores, mutexes, and monitors. Semaphores are a simple and powerful synchronization tool that can be used to coordinate the access to shared resources among multiple processes or threads.

A semaphore is a variable that can be accessed by multiple processes or threads and is used to control access to a shared resource. A semaphore can have two operations: wait and signal. The wait operation decrements the value of the semaphore and blocks the process or thread if the value becomes negative. The signal operation increments the value of the semaphore and unblocks a waiting process or thread, allowing it to proceed.

To use semaphores to deal with the n-process critical section problem, each process or thread must call the wait operation before accessing the critical section and the signal operation after leaving it. This ensures that only one process can access the critical section at a time, while the others wait in a queue.

Here is an example of how semaphores can be used to solve the n-process critical section problem:


<mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">semaphore mutex = 1; </mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-green-cyan-color">// initialize a binary semaphore with value 1</mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">

void process(int id) {
  while (true) {
    </mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-green-cyan-color">// entry section</mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">
    wait(mutex); </mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-green-cyan-color">// wait for access to the critical section</mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">
    </mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-green-cyan-color">// critical section</mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">
    printf("Process %d is accessing the critical section\n", id);
    </mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-green-cyan-color">// exit section</mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">
    signal(mutex); </mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-green-cyan-color">// release access to the critical section
    // remainder section</mark><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-vivid-purple-color">
  }
}</mark>

In this example, each process calls the wait operation on the semaphore mutex before accessing the critical section and the signal operation after leaving it. The binary semaphore mutex ensures that only one process can access the critical section at a time, while the others wait in a queue.

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