Contention-sensitive data structures and algorithms

Gadi Taubenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A contention-sensitive data structure is a concurrent data structure in which the overhead introduced by locking is eliminated in common cases, when there is no contention, or when processes with non-interfering operations access it concurrently. When a process invokes an operation on a contention-sensitive data structure, in the absence of contention or interference, the process must be able to complete its operation in a small number of steps and without using locks. Using locks is permitted only when there is interference. We formally define the notion of contention-sensitive data structures, propose four general transformations that facilitate devising such data structures, and illustrate the benefits of the approach by implementing a contention-sensitive consensus algorithm, a contention-sensitive double-ended queue data structure, and a contention-sensitive election algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
StatePublished - 16 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Contention-sensitive
  • Disable-free
  • Interference
  • Livelock
  • Locks
  • Prevention-free
  • Shortcut code
  • Starvation
  • Synchronization
  • Wait-free
  • k-obstruction-free


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