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SubjectRe: [PATCH] Convert struct pid count to refcount_t
Thanks a lot Paul and Allen, I replied below.

On Thu, Apr 04, 2019 at 12:01:32PM -0400, Alan Stern wrote:
> On Thu, 4 Apr 2019, Paul E. McKenney wrote:
>
> > On Mon, Apr 01, 2019 at 05:11:39PM -0400, Joel Fernandes wrote:
>
> > > > > So I would have expected the following litmus to result in Never, but it
> > > > > doesn't with Alan's patch:
> > > > >
> > > > > P0(int *x, int *y)
> > > > > {
> > > > > *x = 1;
> > > > > smp_mb();
> > > > > *y = 1;
> > > > > }
> > > > >
> > > > > P1(int *x, int *y)
> > > > > {
> > > > > int r1;
> > > > >
> > > > > r1 = READ_ONCE(*y);
> > > > > if (r1)
> > > > > WRITE_ONCE(*x, 2);
> > > > > }
> > > > >
> > > > > exists (1:r1=1 /\ ~x=2)
> > > >
> > > > The problem is that the compiler can turn both of P0()'s writes into reads:
> > > >
> > > > P0(int *x, int *y)
> > > > {
> > > > if (*x != 1)
> > > > *x = 1;
> > > > smp_mb();
> > > > if (*y != 1)
> > > > *y = 1;
> > > > }
> > > >
> > > > These reads will not be ordered by smp_wmb(), so you have to do WRITE_ONCE()
> > > > to get an iron-clad ordering guarantee.
> > >
> > > But the snippet above has smp_mb() which does order writes, even for the
> > > plain accesses.
> >
> > True, but that code has a data race, namely P0()'s plain write to y
> > races with P1()'s READ_ONCE(). Data races give the compiler absolutely
> > astonishing levels of freedom to rearrange your code. So, if you
> > as a developer or maintainer choose to have data races, it is your
> > responsibility to ensure that the compiler cannot mess you up. So what
> > you should do in that case is to list the transformed code the compiler's
> > optimizations can produce and feed the corresponding litmus tests to LKMM,
> > using READ_ONCE() and WRITE_ONCE() for the post-optimization accesses.
>
> In this case, I strongly suspect the compiler would not mess up the
> code badly enough to allow the unwanted end result. But the LKMM tries
> to avoid making strong assumptions about what compilers will or will
> not do.

Here I was just trying to understand better how any kind of code
transformation can cause an issue. Certainly I can see an issue if the
compiler uses the memory location as a temporary variable as Paul pointed, to
which I agree that a WRITE_ONCE is better. I am in favor of being careful,
but here I was just trying to understand this better.

> > > I understand. Are we talking about load/store tearing being the issue here?
> > > Even under load/store tearing, I feel the program will produce correct
> > > results because r1 is either 0 or 1 (a single bit cannot be torn).
> >
> > The compiler can (at least in theory) also transform *y = 1 as follows:
> >
> > *y = r1; /* Use *y as temporary storage. */
> > do_something();
> > r1 = *y;
> > *y = 1;
> >
> > Here r1 is some register and do_something() is an inline function visible
> > to the compiler (hence not implying barrier() upon call and return).
> >
> > I don't know of any compilers that actually do this, but for me use
> > of WRITE_ONCE() is a small price to pay to prevent all past, present,
> > and future compiler from ever destroying^W optimizing my code in this way.
> >
> > In your own code, if you dislike WRITE_ONCE() so much that you are willing
> > to commit to (now and forever!!!) checking all applicable versions of
> > compilers to make sure that they don't do this, well and good, knock
> > yourself out. But it is your responsibility to do that checking, and you
> > can attest to LKMM that you have done so by giving LKMM litmus tests that
> > substitute WRITE_ONCE() for that plain C-language assignment statement.
>
> Remember that the LKMM does not produce strict bounds. That is, the
> LKMM will say that some outcomes are allowed even though no existing
> compiler/CPU combination would ever actually produce them. This litmus
> test is an example.

Ok.

> > > Further, from the herd simulator output (below), according to the "States",
> > > r1==1 means P1() AFAICS would have already finished the the read and set the
> > > r1 register to 1. Then I am wondering why it couldn't take the branch to set
> > > *x to 2. According to herd, r1 == 1 AND x == 1 is a perfectly valid state
> > > for the below program. I still couldn't see in my mind how for the below
> > > program, this is possible - in terms of compiler optimizations or other kinds
> > > of ordering. Because there is a smp_mb() between the 2 plain writes in P0()
> > > and P1() did establish that r1 is 1 in the positive case. :-/. I am surely
> > > missing something :-)
> > >
> > > ---8<-----------------------
> > > C Joel-put_pid
> > >
> > > {}
> > >
> > > P0(int *x, int *y)
> > > {
> > > *x = 1;
> > > smp_mb();
> > > *y = 1;
> > > }
> > >
> > > P1(int *x, int *y)
> > > {
> > > int r1;
> > >
> > > r1 = READ_ONCE(*y);
> > > if (r1)
> > > WRITE_ONCE(*x, 2);
> > > }
> > >
> > > exists (1:r1=1 /\ ~x=2)
> > >
> > > ---8<-----------------------
> > > Output:
> > >
> > > Test Joel-put_pid Allowed
> > > States 3
> > > 1:r1=0; x=1;
> > > 1:r1=1; x=1; <-- Can't figure out why r1=1 and x != 2 here.
> >
> > I must defer to Alan on this, but my guess is that this is due to
> > the fact that there is a data race.
>
> Yes, and because the plain-access/data-race patch for the LKMM was
> intended only to detect data races, not to be aware of all the kinds of
> ordering that plain accesses can induce. I said as much at the start
> of the patch's cover letter and it bears repeating.
>
> In this case it is certainly true that the "*x = 1" write must be
> complete before the value of *y is changed from 0. Hence P1's
> WRITE_ONCE will certainly overwrite the 1 with 2, and the final value
> of *x will be 2 if r1=1.
>
> But the notion of "visibility" of a write that I put into the LKMM
> patch only allows for chains of marked accesses. Since "*y = 1" is a
> plain access, the model does not recognize that it can enforce the
> ordering between the two writes to *x.
>
> Also, you must remember, the LKMM's prediction about whether an outcome
> will or will not occur are meaningless if a data race is present.
> Therefore the most fundamental the answer to why the "1:r1=1; x=1;"
> line is there is basically what Paul said: It's there because the
> herd model gets completely messed up by data races.

Makes sense to me. Thanks for the good work on this.

FWIW, thought to mention (feel free ignore the suggestion if its
meaningless): If there is any chance that the outcome can be better
outputted, like r1=X; x=1; Where X stands for the result of a data race, that
would be lovely. I don't know much about herd internals (yet) to say if the
suggestion makes sense but as a user, it would certainly help reduce
confusion.

thanks,

- Joel


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