Original Article

Acta Informatica

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 123-151

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

A criterion for atomicity revisited

  • Wim H. HesselinkAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Computing Science, University of Groningen Email author 


Concurrent and reactive programs are specified by their behaviours in the presence of a nondeterministic environment. In a natural way, this gives a specification (ARW) of an atomic variable in the style of Abadi and Lamport. Several implementations of atomic variables by lower level primitives are known. A few years ago, we formulated a criterion to prove the correctness of such implementations. The proof of correctness of the criterion itself was based on Lynch’s definition of atomicity by serialization points. Here, this criterion is reformulated as a specification HRW in the formal sense. Simulations from HRW to ARW and vice versa are constructed. These now serve as a constructive proof of correctness of the criterion. Eternity variables are used in the simulation from HRW to ARW. We propose so-called gliding simulations to deal with the problems that appear when occasionally the concrete implementation needs fewer steps than the abstract specification.