ezyang’s blog

the arc of software bends towards understanding

Maximum matching deadlock solution

Last Monday, I presented a parallel algorithm for computing maximum weighted matching, and noted that on real hardware, a naive implementation would deadlock.

Several readers correctly identified that sorting the nodes on their most weighted vertex only once was insufficient: when a node becomes paired as is removed from the pool of unpaired nodes, it could drastically affect the sort. Keeping the nodes in a priority queue was suggested as an answer, which is certainly a good answer, though not the one that Feo ended up using.

Feo’s solution. Assign every node an “is being processed bit.” When a node attempts to read its neighbor’s full/empty bit and finds the bit empty, check if the node is being processed. If it is not, atomically check and set the “is being processed bit” to 1 and process the node recursively. Fizzle threads that are scheduled but whose nodes are already being processed. The overhead is one bit per node.

I think this is a particularly elegant solution, because it shows how recursion lets work easily allocate itself to threads that would otherwise be idle.

2 Responses to “Maximum matching deadlock solution”

  1. Phil says:

    ahhh I had played with an idea like this (but hadn’t gotten the crucial bit about storing the additional bit, which led me to discard the idea).. it seemed a bit like preemption, but if the node is voluntarily yielding the thread, I guess it’s cooperative instead :)

  2. Phil says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle btw; I know yours isn’t a systems puzzle blog, but you’re in my rss feeds now so I’ll know about any further ones you post. thanks!

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