Model Checking Transactional Memories

Rachid Guerraoui, Thomas A. Henzinger, Barbara Jobstmann, and Vasu Singh

Model checking software transactional memories (STMs) is difficult because of the unbounded number, length, and delay of concurrent transactions and the unbounded size of the memory. We show that, under certain conditions, the verification problem can be reduced to a finite-state problem, and we illustrate the use of the method by proving the correctness of several STMs, including two-phase locking, DSTM, TL2, and optimistic concurrency control. The safety properties we consider include strict serializability and opacity; the liveness properties include obstruction freedom, livelock freedom, and wait freedom.

Our main contribution lies in the structure of the proofs, which are largely automated and not restricted to the STMs mentioned above. In a first step we show that every STM that enjoys certain structural properties either violates a safety or liveness requirement on some program with two threads and two shared variables, or satisfies the requirement on all programs. In the second step we use a model checker to prove the requirement for the STM applied to a most general program with two threads and two variables. In the safety case, the model checker constructs a simulation relation between two carefully constructed finite-state transition systems, one representing the given STM applied to a most general program, and the other representing a most liberal safe STM applied to the same program. In the liveness case, the model checker analyzes fairness conditions on the given STM transition system.

Proceedings of the International Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), ACM Press, 2008, pp. 372-382.

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