Indirect reference counting: A distributed garbage collection algorithm

  • José M. Piquer
Submitted Presentations
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 505)


This paper exposes a Garbage Collection (GC) algorithm for loosely-coupled multi-processors. The algorithm is based on reference counting and is designed to reclaim distant-pointed objects. It behaves like weighted reference counting, using only decrement messages. The main advantages are that it never creates indirect cells (so accesses to distant pointed objects are always done in constant time) and it does not need synchronization with the proprietary site of the object. Object migration is also supported with only one decrement message, involving only the source and destination sites. On the other hand, two extra fields are needed in every remote pointer and decrement messages can be generated in cascades of arbitrary size, making it less predictable.

A first version adapted to a distributed Lisp running on a group of Transputer1 processors will be presented along with some measures. Each processor has its own local Garbage Collector (of the Mark-Scan type) and the indirect reference counting for remote pointers has been implemented without having to change the local GC.

In this paper the algorithm is presented, it is compared with the weighted reference counting garbage collector and some experimental results are shown along with some implementation issues.


Garbage Collection Reference Counting Distributed Systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INRIA - École PolytechniqueLe Chesnay CedexFrance

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