A Practical Analysis of Rust's Concurrency Story

04/27/2019 ∙ by Aditya Saligrama, et al. ∙ 0

Correct concurrent programs are difficult to write; when multiple threads mutate shared data, they may lose writes, corrupt data, or produce erratic program behavior. While many of the data-race issues with concurrency can be avoided by the placing of locks throughout the code, these often serialize program execution, and can significantly slow down performance-critical applications. Programmers also make mistakes, and often forget locks in less-executed code paths, which leads to programs that misbehave only in rare situations. Rust is a recent programming language from Mozilla that attempts to solve these intertwined issues by detecting data-races at compile time. Rust's type system encodes a data-structure's ability to be shared between threads in the type system, which in turn allows the compiler to reject programs where threads directly mutate shared state without locks or other protection mechanisms. In this work, we examine how this aspect of Rust's type system impacts the development and refinement of a concurrent data structure, as well as its ability to adapt to situations where correctness is guaranteed by lower-level invariants (e.g., in lock-free algorithms) that are not directly expressible in the type system itself. We detail the implementation of a concurrent lock-free hashmap in order to describe these traits of the Rust language. Our code is publicly available at https://github.com/saligrama/concache and is one of the fastest concurrent hashmaps for the Rust language, which leads to mitigating bottlenecks in concurrent programs.

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