The runtime system of dynamic languages such as Prolog or Lisp and their derivatives contain a symbol table, in Prolog often called the atom table. A simple dynamically resizing hash-table used to be an adequate way to implement this table. As Prolog becomes fashionable for 24 × 7 server processes we need to deal with atom garbage collection and concurrent access to the atom table. Classical lock-based implementations to ensure consistency of the atom table scale poorly and a stop-the-world approach to implement atom garbage collection quickly becomes a bottle-neck, making Prolog unsuitable for soft real-time applications. In this article we describe a novel implementation for the atom table using lock-free techniques where the atom-table remains accessible even during atom garbage collection. Relying only on CAS (Compare And Swap) and not on external libraries, the implementation is straightforward and portable.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.