[jmm-dev] Jmm revision status

Peter Sewell Peter.Sewell at cl.cam.ac.uk
Thu Jul 17 20:11:25 UTC 2014

On 17 July 2014 21:00, Doug Lea <dl at cs.oswego.edu> wrote:
> Things were moving along rather nicely. And then ... nothing.

We have been working in the meantime, but (unsurprisingly) it's proved
tricky...  we have a draft paper at


that has some good news and bad news, mostly in the C context (work by
Mark Batty, Kayvan Memarian, Kyndylan Nienhuis, Jean Pichon, and
myself).  The former consist of a machine-checked proof of DRF-SC for
the C/C++11 model and a machine-checked-equivalent operational C/C++11
model.  For the latter, we describe our observations that there's no
fix to the thin-air problems (preserving existing optimisations) in a
per-candidate-execution style, and that this is not just a problem for
relaxed atomics - the mix of nonatomic and (eg) SC atomic accesses
that is allowed in C also leads to thin-air difficulties (this latter
isn't necessarily relevant to Java, of course). Then we explore
further the operational construction we sent a mail around earlier -
it's interesting in that it copes with the thin-air examples (and in
general with reordering) very nicely, but difficulties with other
optimisations suggest it's not really a solution for C.   I guess also
not for Java, but I don't have a good intuition for how much
optimisation you might be prepared to give up.

Meanwhile (we've just been talking at a couple of meetings), Viktor
and Francesco et al. have identified yet other problems with C/C++11,
especially related to whether source-to-source (or IR-to-IR)
optimisations are sound w.r.t. it. Some of these are fixable, but
others involve the same basic thin-air problem.

Right now, I'm not aware of any fleshed out credible proposal for a
decent model that allows something like relaxed atomics (implementable
with just plain accesses) and current optimisations...    perhaps
Alan's event-structure semantics will give us a way forward.

> My sense is that people following things closely suddenly became less
> optimistic that we will arrive at something simple and beautiful and
> readily understandable after seeing Peter Sewell's proposed amendments
> to C++/C11 (http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~pes20/cpp/notes44.html) and Alan
> Jeffrey's unsimple follow-ups to his simple fresh start. See March
> list archives at
> http://mail.openjdk.java.net/pipermail/jmm-dev/2014-March/thread.html
> This seems to happen all the time with memory models. Practical
> necessities surrounding processors and optimizers lead to messiness.
> In particular, most people wanted to get rid of JSR133 user-hostile
> "justification sequences" and the like, but this is now far from a
> sure thing. (Peter's approach amounts to a special form of them.)

Not really the same kind of thing, I think - that operational
construction involves more than just a single candidate execution, but
not the bait-and-switch nature of JSR133.


> All ideas would be welcome on how we can recover forward progress on
> the core model. Especially since we do have some other updates
> more-or-less conceptually ready to adapt to them, including actual
> specs for "enhanced-volatile" acquire/release and other intrinsics,
> and replacing the "final fields" specs with simpler constructor
> release guarantees.
> -Doug

More information about the jmm-dev mailing list