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From "Michael A. Smith" <>
Subject RE: Are FastArrayList/FastHashMap broken (unthreadsafe)
Date Fri, 17 May 2002 16:45:03 GMT
On Fri, 17 May 2002, Jack, Paul wrote:
> > > I have just been looking through the source code to the classes 
> > > org.apache.commons.collections.FastHashMap and 
> > > org.apache.commons.collections.FastArrayList - these classes seem
> totally 
> > > broken to me because they are designed for use within a multi-threaded 
> > > environment but are not threadsafe within the definition of the Java
> memory 
> > > model.
> > They're not *totally* broken.  Just not really thread safe in highly 
> > optimized runtimes.  
> Insofar as Java code is supposed to be cross-platform, the fact that
> the code isn't really thread safe in highly optimized runtimes really
> does mean it's totally broken.

not totally broken because there are certain use-cases where this probably
isn't an issue.  For example, not ever modifying the collection once it is 
in fast mode.

> Furthermore, the code won't work in non-highly optimized runtimes either.
> The instructions that clone the internal collection and the instructions
> that store the reference to the clone can be done or percieved out-of-order
> because of optimizing compilers or processor pipelines.  A thread 
> invoking a read operation might raise all sorts of unexpected
> RuntimeExceptions
> because the clone() of a write operation hasn't finished yet.  In theory
> this could happen even on single-processor JIT environments (though to be
> fair I've only ever tested the code on single-processor 386-based chips,
> where everything seems to work just fine).

We've already had this discussion:

and (although in a different context), I've already pointed out the 
reordering corruption possibility:

> > ...
> > If you don't think the fix for bug 7924 will solve this issue, then file a
> > separate bug for it.  
> It's a separate issue, and there should be a separate bug.  However, there
> is no way to fix the bug:  The Fast collection classes cannot behave
> as advertised and be cross-platform, given the current Java Memory Model.

So are you saying your patch won't work?


That patch is still on my radar.  I just haven't had the chance to do 
anything with it yet. I've been swamped with too many other things.


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