Computer Science 330
Operating Systems

Fall 2022, Siena College

Lab 3: Concurrency
Due: 11:59 PM, Thursday, October 13, 2022

In this lab, we will begin POSIX threads (pthreads) programming and look at related concurrency issues.

You may work alone or in groups of size 2 of 3 on this lab. However, in order to make sure you learn the material and are well-prepared for the exams, those who work in a group should either collaborate closely while completing the problems or work through the problems individually then discuss them within your group to agree on a solution. In particular, the "you do these and I'll do these" approach is sure to leave you unprepared for upcoming tasks and the exams.

Learning goals:

  1. To consider an alternate software solution to the critical section problem for 2 proecesses.
  2. To learn the basics of pthreads programming.

Getting Set Up

In Canvas, you will find link to follow to set up your GitHub repository, which will be named concurrency-lab-yourgitname, for this lab. Only one member of the group should follow the link to set up the repository on GitHub, then others should request a link to be granted write access.

You may choose to answer the lab questions in the file in the top-level directory of your repository, or upload a document with your responses to your repository, or add a link to a shared document containing your responses to the file.

Dekker's Algorithm

We looked at Peterson's Algorithm in class as a software solution to the critical section problem for two processes. Another solution is due to Dekker:

Question 1: State the conditions that must be guaranteed for an approach such as this to be considered a solution to the critical section problem (3 points)

Question 2: Explain, as precisely as you can, how each of the these conditions is satisfied by Dekker's Algorithm. (5 points)

pthreads Basics

We saw how to use fork() to create processes in Unix. We can also create threads with system calls. Thread support in modern operating systems includes POSIX threads, Java threads, and Windows threads. We will look at and make heaviest use of just one type: POSIX threads, usually known as "pthreads".

The basic idea is that we can create and destroy threads of execution in a program, on the fly, during its execution. These threads can then be executed in parallel by the operating system scheduler. If we have multiple processors, we should be able to achieve a speedup over the single-threaded equivalent.

We start with a look at a pthreads "Hello, world" program, which is in the pthreadhello directory of your repository for this lab.

The most basic functionality involves the creation and destruction of threads:

Prototypes for pthread functions are in pthread.h and programs need to link with libpthread.a (use -lpthread at link time).

Any global variables in your program are accessible to all threads. Local variables are directly accessible only to the thread in which they were created, though the memory can be shared by passing a pointer as part of the last argument to pthread_create().

Practice Program: Create a new version of the pthreadhello.c program in a file pthreadhello-more.c in the pthreadmore directory of your repository that takes a command-line parameter that specifies the number of threads to create. Pass pointers to entries of an array of numbers 1 through n as the thread parameter to identify the thread numbers. (10 points)

A more interesting example is in proctree_threads.

This example builds a "tree" of threads to a depth given on the command line. It includes calls to pthread_self(), which returns the thread identifier of the calling thread.

Try it out and study the code to make sure you understand how it works.

Question 3: What is the output when you run the program for a tree of depth 3 on noreaster? (1 points)

Question 4: How many calls are made to the split_proc function for a tree of depth n? (3 points)

Question 5: What is the largest tree you can create on noreaster before you start to get thread creation errors? (1 point)

Question 6: What is the largest tree you can create on your Linux VM before you start to get thread creation errors? (1 point)


Commit and push!


This assignment will be graded out of 25 points.


Value Score
Question 1 3
Question 2 5
pthreadhello-more.c 10
Question 3 2
Question 4 3
Question 5 1
Question 6 1
Total 25