A practical wait-free simulation for lock-free data structures

Shahar Timnat, Erez Petrank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lock-free data structures guarantee overall system progress, whereas wait-free data structures guarantee the progress of each and every thread, providing the desirable non-starvation guarantee for concurrent data structures. While practical lock-free implementations are known for various data structures, wait-free data structure designs are rare. Wait-free implementations have been notoriously hard to design and often inefficient. In this work we present a transformation of lock-free algorithms to wait-free ones allowing even a non-expert to transform a lock-free data-structure into a practical wait-free one. The transformation requires that the lock-free data structure is given in a normalized form defined in this work. Using the new method, we have designed and implemented wait-free linked-list, skiplist, and tree and we measured their performance. It turns out that for all these data structures the wait-free implementations are only a few percent slower than their lock-free counterparts, while still guaranteeing non-starvation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-368
Number of pages12
JournalACM SIGPLAN Notices
Issue number8
StatePublished - 6 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • lock-freedom
  • wait-freedom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science


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