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Deadlock Prevention

If we simulate deadlock with a table which is standing on its four legs then we can also simulate four legs with the four conditions which when occurs simultaneously, cause the deadlock.

However, if we break one of the legs of the table then the table will fall definitely. The same happens with deadlock, if we can be able to violate one of the four necessary conditions and don't let them occur together then we can prevent the deadlock.

Let's see how we can prevent each of the conditions.

1. Mutual Exclusion

Mutual section from the resource point of view is the fact that a resource can never be used by more than one process simultaneously which is fair enough but that is the main reason behind the deadlock. If a resource could have been used by more than one process at the same time then the process would have never been waiting for any resource.

However, if we can be able to violate resources behaving in the mutually exclusive manner then the deadlock can be prevented.


For a device like printer, spooling can work. There is a memory associated with the printer which stores jobs from each of the process into it. Later, Printer collects all the jobs and print each one of them according to FCFS. By using this mechanism, the process doesn't have to wait for the printer and it can continue whatever it was doing. Later, it collects the output when it is produced.

os Deadlock Prevention Spooling

Although, Spooling can be an effective approach to violate mutual exclusion but it suffers from two kinds of problems.

  1. This cannot be applied to every resource.
  2. After some point of time, there may arise a race condition between the processes to get space in that spool.

We cannot force a resource to be used by more than one process at the same time since it will not be fair enough and some serious problems may arise in the performance. Therefore, we cannot violate mutual exclusion for a process practically.

2. Hold and Wait

Hold and wait condition lies when a process holds a resource and waiting for some other resource to complete its task. Deadlock occurs because there can be more than one process which are holding one resource and waiting for other in the cyclic order.

However, we have to find out some mechanism by which a process either doesn't hold any resource or doesn't wait. That means, a process must be assigned all the necessary resources before the execution starts. A process must not wait for any resource once the execution has been started.

!(Hold and wait) = !hold or !wait (negation of hold and wait is, either you don't hold or you don't wait)

This can be implemented practically if a process declares all the resources initially. However, this sounds very practical but can't be done in the computer system because a process can't determine necessary resources initially.

Process is the set of instructions which are executed by the CPU. Each of the instruction may demand multiple resources at the multiple times. The need cannot be fixed by the OS.

The problem with the approach is:

  1. Practically not possible.
  2. Possibility of getting starved will be increases due to the fact that some process may hold a resource for a very long time.

3. No Preemption

Deadlock arises due to the fact that a process can't be stopped once it starts. However, if we take the resource away from the process which is causing deadlock then we can prevent deadlock.

This is not a good approach at all since if we take a resource away which is being used by the process then all the work which it has done till now can become inconsistent.

Consider a printer is being used by any process. If we take the printer away from that process and assign it to some other process then all the data which has been printed can become inconsistent and ineffective and also the fact that the process can't start printing again from where it has left which causes performance inefficiency.

4. Circular Wait

To violate circular wait, we can assign a priority number to each of the resource. A process can't request for a lesser priority resource. This ensures that not a single process can request a resource which is being utilized by some other process and no cycle will be formed.

os Deadlock Prevention

Among all the methods, violating Circular wait is the only approach that can be implemented practically.

Next TopicDeadlock Avoidance

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