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What is Process Synchronization?

  • Process Synchronization is a concept in operating systems that refers to the coordination and control of multiple concurrent processes or threads to ensure proper and orderly execution.
  • In a multi-process or multi-threaded environment, various processes often need to access shared resources or critical sections of code simultaneously.
  • Process synchronization mechanisms are employed to prevent race conditions, data inconsistencies, and conflicts that can arise when multiple processes attempt to access shared resources simultaneously.
  • The main goal of process synchronization is to enforce mutual exclusion, which ensures that only one process can access a shared resource or critical section at a time.
  • This prevents data corruption and ensures that the results of concurrent operations are consistent and predictable.

Common mechanisms for process synchronization include:

  1. Locks (Mutex): Mutexes (short for mutual exclusion) are used to protect shared resources. A process must acquire a mutex before accessing the shared resource and release it after completing the operation.
  2. Semaphores: Semaphores are used to control access to shared resources. They can be used to allow multiple processes to access a resource up to a specified limit or to block access until the resource is available.
  3. Conditional Variables: Conditional variables are used to signal between processes to coordinate their activities and to avoid busy-waiting.
  4. Atomic Operations: Some hardware architectures provide atomic operations, which are low-level instructions that are guaranteed to be executed as a single, indivisible unit, ensuring that concurrent access to shared resources does not lead to data inconsistency.