CS452 - Real-Time Programming - Spring 2009

Lecture 26 - Pathologies

1. Deadlock

One or more tasks will never run again. For example

  1. Task sends to itself (local: rest of system keeps running, task itself will never run)
  2. Every task does Receive( ) (global: nothing is running)
  3. Cycle of tasks sending around the cycle (local: other tasks keep running)

Kernel can detect such things

Possible send-blocking can be detected at compile time


2. Livelock (Deadly Embrace)

Usually occurs in the context of resource contention. For example

Kernel(s) cannot easily detect livelock

Possible solutions

  1. both resources in one proprietor
  2. global order on resource requests
  3. ethernet algorithm

Could consider this a form of critical race.

3. Critical Races

Theory of relativity and the event horizon

One task tests a condition

Another task tests the same condition

And the two actions are incompatible.

That is, information about the action of the first task did not spread instantaneously:

Concrete example.

Engineer sends to switchDetective

Before switchDetective does RegisterAs, a second Engineer sends to switchDetective

Each switchDetective, or its courier, does Put and Get to find out about switches.

This is only a little bad, you probably won't even notice it, except your performance will be bad.

But it can be much worse


  1. Small changes in priorities change execution unpredictably, and drastically.
  2. Debugging output changes execution drastically.
  3. Changes in train speeds change execution drastically.

Define `drastically'.


  1. A protocol for using the name server
  2. At initialization it's a programming bug,

4. Performance

The hardest problem to solve


The hardest thing to get right

Problems with priority

  1. Priority inversion
  2. One resource, many clients
  3. Tasks try to do too much


  1. Too many tasks

Layered abstraction are costly

e.g. Notifier -> SerialServer -> InputAccumulater -> Parser -> TrackServer


  1. Turn on optimization, but be careful
  2. Turn on caches
  3. Size & align calibration tables by size & alignment of cache lines
  4. Slowing and stopping

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