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Process Coordination

Process coordination consists of synchronization and mutual exclusion, which were discussed earlier. We will now study different techniques for process coordination. We first make a few definitions related to process coordination.

Critical Section

Instructions that must be executed while another activity is excluded will be called a critical section. For instance in an earlier example we saw that the statement:

A[n++] = item
could be executed by only one of the processes AddChar1 and AddChar2. This statement is a critical section.

Starvation and Deadlock

Consider the following situation: Process p1 is in a critical section c1 waiting for process p2 to get out of a critical section c2. Process p2, meanwhile, is waiting for process p1 to get out of c1. Both p1 and p2 are stuck: each is waiting to get into a critical section being executed by the other. This sort of circular waiting is called a deadlock. In Europe, it is known by the more striking name of ``deadly embrace''.

Another problem related to process coordination is starvation. This problem arises when one or more processes waiting for a critical section are never allowed to enter the region.

Different process coordination techniques are often judged on the basis of their ability to prevent these two problems.

Prasun Dewan
Wed Oct 16 15:58:47 EDT 1996