Homework 2: Mutexes


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CSE113: Parallel Programming
Homework 2: Mutexes

1. This assignment requires the following programs: make, bash, and clang++. This software
should all be available on the provided docker.
2. The background for assignment is given throughout the lectures of module 2 and in the
textbook: The Art of Multiprocessor Programming. There is a link on the course website for
an online copy hosted by the library. I will provide reference to book sections when needed.
3. Find the assignment packet at You might collect this from a a bash cli using wget. That is, you
can run:
Download the packet and unzip it. But do not change the file structure.
4. This homework contains 3 parts. Each part is worth equal points.
5. If you need help, please visit office or mentoring hours. You can also ask questions on Piazza.
You are allowed to ask your classmates questions about frameworks and languages (e.g. Docker
and C++). You are not allowed to discuss technical homework solution details with them.
6. Your submission will consist of two parts: a zipped directory of code and a pdf report. Upload
both files to Canvas when you submit. The contents of the report for each part are detailed in
each section. The structure of the zipped directory is described at the end of the document.
7. The code contains empty checker.h files. These are stubs that we will fill in when grading.
Do not remove them.
1 Implementing Mutexes
In this part of the assignment you will implement two mutex variants. The first is the filter lock,
an N threaded generalization of Peterson’s algorithm. You can find the algorithm description in
section 2.4 of the book. The second mutex you will implement is Lamport’s bakery algorithm. It
is given in section 2.6 of the book.
You will measure the throughput and fairness of each mutex using the skeleton C++ code
provided in the packet. The main function repeatedly locks and unlocks a mutex on each thread
for 1 second. It reports the throughput of the mutex overall (how many total mutex lock/unlocks
occurred) and a histogram for how many times each thread obtained the mutex.
Your work will largely be constrained to the two mutex header files: filter.h and bakery.h.
You must implement 4 functions:
• the constructor
• init: an initialization function that is called before threads are launched. It takes in the
number of threads as an argument.
• lock: as described in lecture. It takes the thread id as an argument.
• unlock: as described in lecture. It also takes a thread id as an argument.
You must also provide the necessary private variables to implement the mutex. You should use
atomic data types (only when required), and you must use the store and load methods to
access memory through the atomics. You are not allowed to use atomic RMWs in any part
of your implementations!
You are allowed to use the book as a reference, as well as the class lectures/slides. Please do
not explicitly search online for C++ implementations of these mutexes.
You can gain confidence in your implementations by running them with the clang thread sanitizer. That is, add the following command line option -fsanitize=thread, and then execute the
program. This is done for you if you run make test. Your mutex implementations should execute
without errors.
The make file produces three executables, one for each lock:
• cpp_mutex: which uses the C++ mutex object.
• filter_mutex: which uses the mutex from filter.h
• bakery_mutex: which uses the mutex from bakery.h
1.1 Experiments
Once your locks are implemented, you will run the three executables with various configurations
and record the results. There are two results you will be gathering:
• the throughput: this is recorded as the total number value that is printed out. It records
how many locks/unlocks occurred across all threads.
• the fairness: we need some way how to measure how fair the implementation is. For this,
we will use a statistical metric called coefficient of variation1
. While the math can be a bit
tricky, the high-level idea can be expressed as:
It shows the extent of variability in relation to the mean of the population.
see the wikipedia page here:
There is an online calculator you can use to compute this statistic here: https://www.
This metric gives a number you can use to compare fairness across your different implementations, even if they have different throughputs. The lower this number is, the more fair the
mutex is.
You should run and report on the following experiments:
• Run with as many threads as you have cores. Record the throughput of each mutex and
record the fairness using the coefficient of variance (for each mutex).
• Run with 16 times as many cores as your machine. Record the throughput of each mutex and
record the fairness using the coefficient of variance (for each mutex).
These results should be gathered without thread sanitizer enabled.
1.2 Adding Yield
For the next part of the assignment, add a yield to the spin loop of both of your mutex implementations (the filter and bakery mutexes). This instruction be discussed in lecture during the week of
Jan. 24.
Repeat the experiments with your new mutex implementations using yield.
1.3 What to Submit
The code component of your submission is the completed header files for the filter lock and bakery
lock (filter.h and bakery.h). Please submit the versions with the yield included.
The report component consists of your mutex results, both the throughput and coefficient of
variance. Please list your results in a table and provide two graphs: one graph for the throughput
and one for the coefficient of variance. The X axis will be the different mutex implementations, the
Y axis is the values you obtained. Write one or two paragraphs explaining your results, and how
they compare to the C++ mutex.
Your grade will be based on 4 criteria:
• Correctness: Do your mutexes provide mutual exclusion?
• Conceptual: do your implementations use atomic operations correctly (and as specified in this
document) and did you implement the algorithms faithfully? Please comment your code.
• Performance: do your throughput/fairness results match roughly what they should.
• Explanation: do you explain your results accurately based on our lectures.
2 A Fair Reader-Writer Lock
We will discuss Reader-Writer mutex implementations in class lectures during the week of Jan. 24.
The shortcoming of basic Reader-Writer mutex implementations is that they can potentially starve
writers if enough readers continually access the mutex.
As you might have suspected, I have written a benchmark that does exactly that. It is a similar
wrapper to Part 1, with the exception that we have 6 readers and 2 writers. The wrapper records
the throughput of the readers and of the writers. You will notice that the writers obtains the mutex
much less frequently than the readers.
Your job is to develop a scheme which provides more fairness to the writer. Your results should
show a significant increase in the number of times that the writer is able to obtain the mutex. You
should also notice that the readers will suffer in throughput.
Your implementation is constrained to fair_mutex.h. Your solution must not allow data conflicts in the critical section of the RWMutex, i.e. the writers must have exclusive access when they
acquire the mutex. You can check this with Clang’s thread sanitizer, similar to Part 1.
As two additional constraints: your solution cannot reduce the throughput of readers when
there are no writers. Your solution cannot use conditional variables.
2.1 Experiments
Record the throughput of the readers and writers as provided by the original code. Then record
the throughput of the readers and writers as reported by your modifications.
2.2 What to Submit
The code component is the completed fair_mutex.h. It will be zipped up with the rest of your
code as described at the end of this document.
The report component consists of your results in a table and a graph; one paragraph describing
your solution; and another paragraph analyzing your results. Consider using the coefficient of
variance, similar to part 1.
Your grade will be based on 4 criteria:
• Correctness: Does your mutex provide mutual exclusion? That is, there should be no writerwriter overlaps in critical sections, nor writer-reader conflicts. Your mutex should allow multiple readers in the critical section.
• Conceptual: does your implementations use a conceptually sound strategy to increase fairness
to writers?
• Performance: does your solution actually provide more fairness for the writers?
• Explanation: do you explain your results accurately based on our lectures.
3 A Concurrent Linked List
In the homework packet, I have provided a sequential stack implementation using a linked list: your
homework is to use C++ mutexes to make this structure safe to access concurrently.
You will be modifying this code, however, the structure of the stack must remain the same: that
is, each operation starts at the beginning node and traverses the list until the end. As a further
constraint, the only values that will be pushed are integers between 0 and 2, inclusive. Peek and
pop return -1 when the stack is empty.
There is a wrapper benchmark file that calls the stack methods concurrently and records the
throughput. You have three implementations you need to provide. Similar to part 1, the makefile
will produce executables for each one.
3.1 Coarse-grained locking
In this implementation (coarse_lock_stack.h), you should add a single mutex to the class’s private
variables. You should perform locking and unlocking for each of the three public methods.
3.2 RW locking
In this implementation (rw_lock_stack.h), you should use the C++ shared_mutex object. You
should identify when you need to use the full lock, and when you can use the reader lock. Recall
that the reader lock call is lock_shared and unlock_shared.
3.3 SwapTop
Building on your RW locking implementation, for the final file (swaptop_stack.h), you need to
implement a new API function called swaptop (swap top). This function takes in an integer and
swaps the top element of the stack with the new value. It should do this indivisibly, i.e. the pop
and push aspects need to be protected in a single critical section.
This function can (and should) be optimized using a read lock. That is, there are parts of the
function that can be efficiently implemented just with the read lock. As a hint, please recall that
the stack contains only 3 possible values: 0,1,2.
The rest of this third implementation should be the same as the RW locking.
All of your solutions should be free from data-conflicts. That is, they should pass Clang’s thread
sanitizer check when executing the wrapper. Your modifications to the stack should not effect its
single threaded behavior (i.e. a push should add an element to the stack: a subsequent pop should
retrieve the element).
3.4 Experiments
Run each of your 3 executables and record the throughputs of the different operations. Due to
timing variations, please run each experiment 10 times and report the average, and comment on
the spread of values you see during runs.
4 What to Submit
The code component of your submission is the completed header files. They will be submitted as
part of the zip file for the whole assignment (described at the end of the document).
In the report component please give the results of your experiments using a table and a graph.
Write 1 paragraph about your solution to SwapTop, and how you used the RW lock. Write 1
paragraph analyzing your results.
Your grade will be based on 4 criteria:
• Correctness: Is your list free from data conflicts and does it maintain the correct behavior of
a stack?
• Conceptual: Are the methods correctly locked with the different mutexes? Does the SwapTop
function efficiently provide its functionality?
• Performance: do your performance results match roughly what they should? Do your RW
locks provide higher throughput?
• Explanation: do you explain your results accurately based on our lectures?
Zipped file directory structure
Please submit your code zipped up in the following structure:
• Submit your code constrained to exactly the files discussed in the section. Do not rename the
files. Only modify the files you are asked to. You can add functions, but do not change the
signature of the functions that are provided.
• from the directory where you originally unzipped the packet, run:
zip -r part1 part2 part3
• This will create Please submit this file.
• you can double check your file fits the format we are expecting by copying
and to a new folder. You should be able to run:
and not see any errors.
In addition to, please also submit a single pdf file including the report components of this assignment. Please submit this pdf as a separate file in canvas, and not as part of the

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