Intro to Database Systems : Concurrency Control - Scheduling problems

In real life, users access a database concurrently.

Database access is done through transactions. What is a transaction?

A real life example of a transaction is money transfer:

The previous operation has to succeed in full. You can not stop halfway. Database transactions work the same way. They ensure that, no matter what happens, manipulated data is treated atomically (you can never see “half a change”).

Atomicity is part of the ACID properties that a DBMS has to maintain:

Now what can go wrong?

Let’s imagine a problem where 2 users reserve a seat for a flight:

Customer 1 will not be happy. This introduces the notion of serializability. There needs to be a concurrency control mechanism through a schedule.

A sequence of transactions executed chronologically is called a schedule. It is a representation of how a set of transactions are executed over time. It can contain the following actions:

A commit or an abort is mandatory in order to have a complete schedule.

A serial schedule is a schedule without interleavings: all operations are executed consecutively.

Conflicting operations are present in a schedule when those operations satisfy the following conditions:

Let’s see a couple of conflicting operations:

The Write-Read Conflict, also called reading uncommitted data or dirty-read occurs when a transaction T2 tries to read a database object A, modified by a transaction T1 which hasn’t been committed. When T1 continues with its transaction, data of object A is inconsistent. The next picture helps illustrating the scenario:


In other words, a dirty read is when a transaction is allowed to read data from a row that has been modified by another running transaction and that modification has not yet been committed.

The Read-Write Conflict, also called unrepeatable reads, occurs when a transaction T1 has to read twice a database object A. After the first read, transaction T1 waits for transaction T2 to finish. T2 overwrites object A and when T1 reads A again, there are 2 different versions of A. T1 will be forced to abort: it is the unrepeatable read.


A real life example of this situation is when Bob and Alice are on Ticketmaster and they want to book tickets for a show. There is only one ticket left : Alice signs-in, finds that the ticket is expensive and takes the time to think about it… Bob signs-in and buys the ticket instantly and then logs off. Alice decides to buy the ticket and finds out that there are no tickets left.

The Write-Write Conflict, also called overwriting uncommitted data, occurs when there are lost updates. The attempt to make this scenario serial will always give two different results: either transaction T1’s version or transaction T2’s version.


Once some concurrent transactions applied on a database, a schedule is serializable if the resulting database state is equivalent (equal) to the outcome of the same transactions, but executed sequentially, without overlapping in time. This is what we aim for. A schedule that is serializable can also be :


The best way to verify if a schedule is serializable is through a dependency graph.

To build a dependency graph we can follow this procedure:

Don’t forget to remove the edge that you just drew if you are actually aborting your transaction.

In order to have a serializable schedule, the dependency graph has to be acyclic (it doesn’t have any cycles, closed paths).

The following schedule is not serializable:


The following schedule is serializable:


Now how to know when a schedule is strict?

How to know when a schedule is avoiding cascading aborts?

How to know when a schedule is recoverable?

The point of enumerating all those schedule classes is to define some concurrency control : measures such that non-serializable execution can never happen.


Now read this

Install Windows 10 from USB

Here is a way to install Windows 10 from an USB key instead of a CD. What you need is: a PC running Windows an empty memory key with at least 8 GB the PC on which you want to install Windows 10. The first step is to make the USB key... Continue →