Safe and Timely Dynamic Updates for Multi-threaded Programs. Iulian Neamtiu and Michael Hicks. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), pages 13-24, June 2009.

Many dynamic updating systems have been developed that enable a program to be patched while it runs, to fix bugs or add new features. This paper explores techniques for supporting dynamic updates to multi-threaded programs, focusing on the problem of applying an update in a timely fashion while still producing correct behavior. Past work has shown that this tension of safety versus timeliness can be balanced for single-threaded programs. For multi-threaded programs, the task is more difficult because myriad thread interactions complicate understanding the possible program states to which a patch could be applied. Our approach allows the programmer to specify a few program points (e.g., one per thread) at which a patch may be applied, which simplifies reasoning about safety. To improve timeliness, a combination of static analysis and run-time support automatically expands these few points to many more that produce behavior equivalent to the originals. Experiments with thirteen realistic updates to three multi-threaded servers show that we can safely perform a dynamic update within milliseconds when more straightforward alternatives would delay some updates indefinitely.

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@INPROCEEDINGS{neamtiu09stump,
  TITLE = {Safe and Timely Dynamic Updates for Multi-threaded Programs},
  AUTHOR = {Iulian Neamtiu and Michael Hicks},
  BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of the {ACM} Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI)},
  MONTH = JUN,
  YEAR = 2009,
  PAGES = {13--24}
}

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