Enhance your understanding and skills by attempting this exercise on the topic of locked data structures.

We'll cover the following

In this exercise, you’ll gain some experience with writing concurrent code and measuring its performance. Learning to build code that performs well is a critical skill and thus gaining a little experience here with it is quite worthwhile.

You will have to attempt this exercise locally, however, feel free to discuss your insights on the Discuss thread.


  1. We’ll start by redoing the measurements within this chapter. Use the call gettimeofday() to measure time within your program. How accurate is this timer? What is the smallest interval it can measure? Gain confidence in its workings, as we will need it in all subsequent questions. You can also look into other timers, such as the cycle counter available on x86 via the rdtsc instruction.

  2. Now, build a simple concurrent counter and measure how long it takes to increment the counter many times as the number of threads increases. How many CPUs are available on the system you are using? Does this number impact your measurements at all?

  3. Next, build a version of the sloppy counter. Once again, measure its performance as the number of threads varies, as well as the threshold. Do the numbers match what you see in the chapter?

  4. Build a version of a linked list that uses hand-over-hand locking“Concurrent Data Structures” by Mark Moir and Nir Shavit. In Handbook of Data Structures and Applications (Editors D. Metha and S.Sahni). Chapman and Hall/CRC Press, 2004. Available: www.cs.tau.ac.il/ ̃shanir/concurrent-data-structures.pdf. A short but relatively comprehensive reference on concurrent data structures. Though it is missing some of the latest works in the area (due to its age), it remains an incredibly useful reference., as cited in the chapter. You should read the paper first to understand how it works, and then implement it. Measure its performance. When does a hand-over-hand list work better than a standard list as shown in the chapter?

  5. Pick your favorite interesting data structure, such as a B-tree or other slightly more interesting structure. Implement it, and start with a simple locking strategy such as a single lock. Measure its performance as the number of concurrent threads increases.

  6. Finally, think of a more interesting locking strategy for this favorite data structure of yours. Implement it, and measure its performance. How does it compare to the straightforward locking approach?

We hope this exercise enabled you to gain experience with the concepts presented in​ the chapter. Get ready for a quick quiz in the next lesson!

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