concepts of transaction processing - Database system concepts

Often, a collection of several operations on the database appears to be a single unit from the point of view of the database user. For example, a transfer of funds from a checking account to a savings account is a single operation from the customer’s standpoint; within the database system, however, it consists of several operations.

Clearly, it is essential that all these operations occur, or that, in case of a failure, none occur. It would be unacceptable if the checking account were debited, but the savings account were not credited.

Collections of operations that form a single logical unit of work are called transactions. A database system must ensure proper execution of transactions despite failures either the entire transaction executes, or none of it does. Furthermore, it must manage concurrent execution of transactions in a way that avoids the introduction of inconsistency. In our funds-transfer example, a transaction computing the customer’s total money might see the checking-account balance before it is debited by the fundstransfer transaction, but see the savings balance after it is credited. As a result, it would obtain an incorrect result.

This chapter introduces the basic concepts of transaction processing.

Transaction Concept

A transaction is a unit of program execution that accesses and possibly updates various data items. Usually, a transaction is initiated by a user program written in a high-level data-manipulation language or programming language (for example, SQL, COBOL, C, C++, or Java), where it is delimited by statements (or function calls) of the form begin transaction and end transaction. The transaction consists of all operations executed between the begin transaction and end transaction.

To ensure integrity of the data, we require that the database system maintain the following properties of the transactions:

  • Atomicity. Either all operations of the transaction are reflected properly in the database, or none are.
  • Consistency. Execution of a transaction in isolation (that is, with no other transaction executing concurrently) preserves the consistency of the database.
  • Isolation. Even though multiple transactions may execute concurrently, the system guarantees that, for every pair of transactions Ti and Tj , it appears to Ti that either Tj finished execution before Ti started, or Tj started execution after Ti finished. Thus, each transaction is unaware of other transactions executing concurrently in the system.
  • Durability. After a transaction completes successfully, the changes it has made to the database persist, even if there are system failures. These properties are often called the ACID properties; the acronym is derived from the first letter of each of the four properties.

To gain a better understanding of ACID properties and the need for them, consider a simplified banking system consisting of several accounts and a set of transactions that access and update those accounts. For the time being, we assume that the database permanently resides on disk, but that some portion of it is temporarily residing in main memory.

Transactions access data using two operations:

  • read(X), which transfers the data item X from the database to a local buffer belonging to the transaction that executed the read operation.
  • write(X), which transfers the data item X from the the local buffer of the transaction that executed the write back to the database.

In a real database system, the write operation does not necessarily result in the immediate update of the data on the disk; the write operation may be temporarily stored in memory and executed on the disk later. For now, however, we shall assume that the write operation updates the database immediately. We shall return to this subject inRecovery System.

Let Ti be a transaction that transfers $50 from account A to account B. This transaction can be defined as

Ti: read(A);
A := A − 50;
write(A);
read(B);
B := B + 50;
write(B).

Let us now consider each of the ACID requirements. (For ease of presentation, we consider them in an order different from the order A-C-I-D).

  • Consistency: The consistency requirement here is that the sum of A and B be unchanged by the execution of the transaction. Without the consistency requirement, money could be created or destroyed by the transaction! It can be verified easily that, if the database is consistent before an execution of the transaction, the database remains consistent after the execution of the transaction. Ensuring consistency for an individual transaction is the responsibility of the application programmer who codes the transaction. This task may be facilitated by automatic testing of integrity constraints.
  • Atomicity: Suppose that, just before the execution of transaction Ti the values of accounts A and B are $1000 and $2000, respectively. Now suppose that, during the execution of transaction Ti, a failure occurs that prevents Ti from completing its execution successfully. Examples of such failures include power failures, hardware failures, and software errors. Further, suppose that the failure happened after the write(A) operation but before the write(B) operation. In this case, the values of accounts A and B reflected in the database are $950 and $2000. The system destroyed $50 as a result of this failure. In particular, wenote that the sum A + B is no longer preserved. Thus, because of the failure, the state of the system no longer reflects a real state of the world that the database is supposed to capture. We term such astate an inconsistent state. We must ensure that such inconsistencies are not visible in a database system. Note, however, that the system must at some point be in an inconsistent state. Even if transaction Ti is executed to completion, there exists a point at which the value of account A is $950 and the value of account B is $2000, which is clearly an inconsistent state. This state, however, is eventually replaced by the consistent state where the value of account A is $950, and the value of account B is $2050. Thus, if the transaction never started or was guaranteed to complete, such an inconsistent state would not be visible except during the execution of the transaction. That is the reason for the atomicity requirement: If the atomicity property is present, all actions of the transaction are reflected in the database, or none are. The basic idea behind ensuring atomicity is this: The database system keeps track (on disk) of the old values of any data on which a transaction performs a write, and, if the transaction does not complete its execution, the database system restores the old values to make it appear as though the transaction never executed. Ensuring atomicity is the responsibility of the database system itself; specifically, it is handled bya component called the transaction-management component.
  • Durability: Once the execution of the transaction completes successfully, and the user who initiated the transaction has been notified that the transfer of funds has taken place, it must be the case that no system failure will result in a loss of data corresponding to this transfer of funds. The durability property guarantees that, once a transaction completes successfully, all the updates that it carried out on the database persist, even if there is a system failure after the transaction completes execution.

We assume for now that a failure of the computer system may result in loss of data in main memory, but data written to disk are never lost. We can guarantee durability by ensuring that either

  1. The updates carried out by the transaction have been written to disk before the transaction completes.
  2. Information about the updates carried out by the transaction and written to disk is sufficient to enable the database to reconstruct the updates when the database system is restarted after the failure.

Ensuring durability is the responsibility of a component of the database system called the recovery-management component. The transaction-management component and the recovery-management component are closely related, and we describe them inRecovery System

  • Isolation: Even if the consistency and atomicity properties are ensured for each transaction, if several transactions are executed concurrently, their operations may interleave in some undesirable way, resulting in an inconsistent state.

For example, as we saw earlier, the database is temporarily inconsistent while the transaction to transfer funds from A to B is executing, with the deducted total written to A and the increased total yet to be written to B. If a second concurrently running transaction reads A and B at this intermediate point and computes A+B, it will observe an inconsistent value. Furthermore, if this second transaction then performs updates on A and B based on the inconsistent values that it read, the database may be left in an inconsistent state even after both transactions have completed.

A way to avoid the problem of concurrently executing transactions is to execute transactions serially that is, one after the other. However, concurrent execution of transactions provides significant performance benefits . Other solutions have therefore been developed; they allow multiple transactions to execute concurrently.

We discuss the problems caused by concurrently executing transactions . The isolation property of a transaction ensures that the concurrent execution of transactions results in a system state that is equivalent to astate that could have been obtained had these transactions executed one at a time in some order. We shall discuss the principles of isolation . Ensuring the isolation property is the responsibility of a component of the database system called the concurrency-control component, whichwe discuss later, inConcurrency Control.

Transaction State

In the absence of failures, all transactions complete successfully. However, as we noted earlier, a transaction may not always complete its execution successfully. Such a transaction is termed aborted. If we are to ensure the atomicity property, an aborted transaction must have no effect on the state of the database. Thus, any changes that the aborted transaction made to the database must be undone. Once the changescaused by an aborted transaction have been undone, we say that the transaction has been rolled back. It is part of the responsibility of the recovery scheme to manage transaction aborts.

A transaction that completes its execution successfully is said to be committed. A committed transaction that has performed updates transforms the database into a new consistent state, which must persist even if there is a system failure. Once a transaction has committed, we cannot undo its effects by aborting it. The only way to undo the effects of a committed transaction is to execute a compensating transaction. For instance, if a transaction added $20 to an account, the compensating transaction would subtract $20 from the account. However, it is not always possible to create such a compensating transaction. Therefore, the responsibility of writing and executing a compensating transaction is left to the user, and is not handled by the database system.

We need to be more precise about what we mean by successful completion of a transaction. We therefore establish a simple abstract transactionmodel. A transactionmust be in one of the following states:

  • Active, the initial state; the transaction stays in this state while it is executing
  • Partially committed, after the final statement has been executed
  • Failed, after the discovery that normal execution can no longer proceed
  • Aborted, after the transaction has been rolled back and the database has been restored to its state prior to the start of the transaction
  • Committed, after successful completion

The state diagram corresponding to a transaction appears in Figure. We say that a transaction has committed only if it has entered the committed state. Similarly, we say that a transaction has aborted only if it has entered the aborted state. A transaction is said to have terminated if has either committed or aborted. A transaction starts in the active state. When it finishes its final statement, it enters the partially committed state. At this point, the transaction has completed its execution, but it is still possible that it may have to be aborted, since the actual output may still be temporarily residing in main memory, and thus a hardware failure maypreclude its successful completion.

The database system then writes out enough information to disk that, even in the event of a failure, the updates performed by the transaction can be re-created when the system restarts after the failure. When the last of this information is written out, the transaction enters the committed state.

As mentioned earlier, we assume for now that failures do not result in loss of data on disk. Recovery System discusses techniques to deal with loss of data on disk. A transaction enters the failed state after the system determines that the transaction can no longer proceed with its normal execution (for example, because of hardware or logical errors). Such a transaction must be rolled back. Then, it enters the aborted state. At this point, the system has two options:

State diagram of a transaction.

State diagram of a transaction.

  • It can restart the transaction, but only if the transaction was aborted as a result of some hardware or software error that was not created through the internal logic of the transaction. A restarted transaction is considered to be a new transaction.
  • It can kill the transaction. It usually does so because of some internal logical error that can be corrected only by rewriting the application program, or because the input was bad, or because the desired data were not found in the database.

We must be cautious when dealing with observable external writes, such as writes to a terminal or printer. Once such a write has occurred, it cannot be erased, since it may have been seen external to the database system. Most systems allow such writes to take place only after the transaction has entered the committed state. One way to implement such a scheme is for the database system to store any value associated with such external writes temporarily in nonvolatile storage, and to perform the actual writes only after the transaction enters the committed state. If the system should fail after the transaction has entered the committed state, but before it could complete the external writes, the database system will carry out the external writes (using the data in nonvolatile storage) when the system is restarted.

Handling external writes can be more complicated in some situations. For example suppose the external action is that of dispensing cash at an automated tellermachine, and the system fails just before the cash is actually dispensed (we assume that cash can be dispensed atomically). It makes no sense to dispense cash when the system is restarted, since the user may have left the machine. In such a case a compensating transaction, such as depositing the cash back in the users account, needs to be executed when the system is restarted.

For certain applications, it may be desirable to allow active transactions to display data to users, particularly for long-duration transactions that run for minutes or hours. Unfortunately, we cannot allow such output of observable data unless we are willing to compromise transaction atomicity. Most current transaction systems ensure atomicity and, therefore, forbid this form of interaction with users.

Implementation of Atomicity and Durability

The recovery-management component of a database system can support atomicity and durability by a variety of schemes. We first consider a simple, but extremely inefficient, scheme called the shadow copy scheme. This scheme, which is based on making copies of the database, called shadow copies, assumes that only one transaction is active at a time. The scheme also assumes that the database is simply a file on disk. A pointer called db-pointer is maintained on disk; it points to the current copy of the database.

In the shadow-copy scheme, a transaction that wants to update the database first creates a complete copy of the database. All updates are done on the new database copy, leaving the original copy, the shadow copy, untouched. If at any point the transaction has to be aborted, the system merely deletes the new copy. The old copy of the database has not been affected.

If the transaction completes, it is committed as follows. First, the operating system is asked to make sure that all pages of the new copy of the database have been written out to disk. (Unix systems use the flush command for this purpose.) After the operating system has written all the pages to disk, the database system updates the pointer db-pointer to point to the new copy of the database; the new copy then becomesthe current copy of the database. The old copy of the database is then deleted. Figure depicts the scheme, showing the database state before and after the update.

Implementation of Atomicity and Durability

Shadow-copy technique for atomicity and durability.

The transaction is said to have been committed at the point where the updated dbpointer is written to disk. We now consider how the technique handles transaction and system failures. First, consider transaction failure. If the transaction fails at any time before db-pointer is updated, the old contents of the database are not affected. We can abort the transaction by just deleting the new copy of the database. Once the transaction has been committed, all the updates that it performed are in the database pointed to by dbpointer.

Thus, either all updates of the transaction are reflected, or none of the effects are reflected, regardless of transaction failure. Now consider the issue of system failure. Suppose that the system fails at any timebefore the updated db-pointer is written to disk. Then, when the system restarts, it will read db-pointer and will thus see the original contents of the database, and none of the effects of the transaction will be visible on the database. Next, suppose that the system fails after db-pointer has been updated on disk. Before the pointer is updated, all updated pages of the new copy of the database were written to disk. Again, we assume that, once a file is written to disk, its contents will not be damaged even if there is a system failure. Therefore, when the system restarts, it will read db-pointer and will thus see the contents of the database after all the updates performed by the transaction.

The implementation actually depends on the write to db-pointer being atomic;that is, either all its bytes are written or none of its bytes are written. If some of the bytes of the pointer were updated by the write, but others were not, the pointer is meaningless, and neither old nor new versions of the database may be found when the system restarts. Luckily, disk systems provide atomic updates to entire blocks, or at least to a disk sector. In other words, the disk system guarantees that it will update db-pointer atomically, as long as we make sure that db-pointer lies entirely in a single sector, which we can ensure by storing db-pointer at the beginning of a block.

Thus, the atomicity and durability properties of transactions are ensured by the shadow-copy implementation of the recovery-management component. As a simple example of a transaction outside the database domain, consider a textediting session. An entire editing session can be modeled as a transaction. The actions executed by the transaction are reading and updating the file. Saving the file at the end of editing corresponds to a commit of the editing transaction; quitting the editing session without saving the file corresponds to an abort of the editing transaction.

Many text editors use essentially the implementation just described, to ensure that an editing session is transactional. A new file is used to store the updated file. At the end of the editing session, if the updated file is to be saved, the text editor uses a file rename command to rename the new file to have the actual file name. The rename, assumed to be implemented as an atomic operation by the underlying file system, deletes the old file as well.

Unfortunately, this implementation is extremely inefficient in the context of large databases, since executing a single transaction requires copying the entire database. Furthermore, the implementation does not allow transactions to execute concurrently with one another. There are practical ways of implementing atomicity and durability that aremuch less expensive and more powerful.We study these recovery techniquesin Recovery System.

Concurrent Executions

Transaction-processing systems usually allow multiple transactions to run concurrently. Allowing multiple transactions to update data concurrently causes several complications with consistency of the data, as we saw earlier. Ensuring consistency in spite of concurrent execution of transactions requires extra work; it is far easier to insist that transactions run serially that is, one at a time, each starting only after the previous one has completed. However, there are two good reasons for allowing concurrency:

  • Improved throughput and resource utilization. Atransaction consists of many steps. Some involve I/O activity; others involve CPU activity. The CPU and the disks in a computer system can operate in parallel. Therefore, I/O activity can be done in parallel with processing at the CPU. The parallelism of the CPU and the I/O system can therefore be exploited to run multiple transactions in parallel. While a read or write on behalf of one transaction is in progress on one disk, another transaction can be running in the CPU, while another disk may be executing a read or write on behalf of a third transaction. All of this increases the throughput of the system that is, the number of transactions executed in a given amount of time. Correspondingly, the processor and disk utilization also increase; in other words, the processor and disk spend less time idle, or not performing any useful work.
  • Reduced waiting time. There may be a mix of transactions running on a system, some short and some long. If transactions run serially, a short transaction may have to wait for a preceding long transaction to complete, which can lead to unpredictable delays in running a transaction. If the transactions are operating on different parts of the database, it is better to let them run concurrently, sharing the CPU cycles and disk accesses among them. Concurrent execution reduces the unpredictable delays in running transactions. Moreover, it also reduces the average response time: the average time for a transaction to be
    completed after it has been submitted.

The motivation for using concurrent execution in a database is essentially the same as the motivation for using multiprogramming in an operating system. When several transactions run concurrently, database consistency can be destroyed despite the correctness of each individual transaction. In this section, we present the concept of schedules to help identify those executions that are guaranteed to ensure consistency.

The database system must control the interaction among the concurrent transactions to prevent them from destroying the consistency of the database. It does so through a variety of mechanisms called concurrency-control schemes. We study concurrency-control schemes in Concurrency Control; for now, we focus on the concept of correct concurrent execution.

Let T1 and T2 be two transactions that transfer funds from one account to another. Transaction T1 transfers $50 from account A to account B. It is defined as

T1: read(A);
A := A − 50;
write(A);
read(B);
B := B + 50;
write(B).

Transaction T2 transfers 10 percent of the balance from account A to account B. It is defined as

T2: read(A);
temp := A * 0.1;
A := A − temp;
write(A);
read(B);
B := B + temp;
write(B).

Suppose the current values of accounts A and B are $1000 and $2000, respectively. Suppose also that the two transactions are executed one at a time in the order T1 followed by T2. This execution sequence appears in Figure . In the figure, the sequence of instruction steps is in chronological order from top to bottom, with instructions of T1 appearing in the left column and instructions of T2 appearing in the right column. The final values of accounts A and B, after the execution in Figure takes place, are $855 and $2145, respectively. Thus, the total amount of money in accounts A and B that is, the sum A + B is preserved after the execution of both transactions.

Schedule 1—a serial schedule in which T1 is followed by T2.

Schedule 1—a serial schedule in which T1 is followed by T2.

Similarly, if the transactions are executed one at a time in the order T2 followed by T1, then the corresponding execution sequence is that of Figure. Again, as expected, the sum A + B is preserved, and the final values of accounts A and B are $850 and $2150, respectively.

The execution sequences just described are called schedules. They represent the chronological order in which instructions are executed in the system. Clearly, a schedule for a set of transactions must consist of all instructions of those transactions, and must preserve the order in which the instructions appear in each individual transaction. For example, in transaction T1, the instruction write(A) must appear before the instruction read(B), in any valid schedule. In the following discussion, we shall refer to the first execution sequence (T1 followed by T2) as schedule 1, and to the second execution sequence (T2 followed by T1) as schedule 2.These schedules are serial: Each serial schedule consists of a sequence of instructions from various transactions, where the instructions belonging to one single transaction appear together in that schedule. Thus, for a set of n transactions, there exist n! different valid serial schedules.

When the database system executes several transactions concurrently, the corresponding schedule no longer needs to be serial. If two transactions are running concurrently, the operating system may execute one transaction for a little while, then perform a context switch, execute the second transaction for some time, and then switch back to the first transaction for some time, and so on. With multiple transactions, the CPU time is shared among all the transactions.

Several execution sequences are possible, since the various instructions from both transactions may now be interleaved. In general, it is not possible to predict exactly how many instructions of a transaction will be executed before the CPU switches to another transaction. Thus, the number of possible schedules for a set of n transactions is much larger than n!.

Schedule 2—a serial schedule in which T2 is followed by T1

Schedule 2—a serial schedule in which T2 is followed by T1.

Schedule 2—a serial schedule in which T2 is followed by T1

Schedule 3—a concurrent schedule equivalent to schedule 1.

Returning to our previous example, suppose that the two transactions are executed concurrently. One possible schedule appears in Figure. After this execution takes place, we arrive at the same state as the one in which the transactions are executed serially in the order T1 followed by T2. The sumA + B is indeed preserved.

Not all concurrent executions result in a correct state. To illustrate, consider the schedule of Figure . After the execution of this schedule, we arrive at a state where the final values of accounts A and B are $950 and $2100, respectively. This final state is an inconsistent state, since we have gained $50 in the process of the concurrent execution. Indeed, the sum A + B is not preserved by the execution of the two transactions.

If control of concurrent execution is left entirely to the operating system, many possible schedules, including ones that leave the database in an inconsistent state, such as the one just described, are possible. It is the job of the database system to ensure that any schedule that gets executed will leave the database in a consistent state. The concurrency-control component of the database system carries out this task.

We can ensure consistency of the database under concurrent execution by making sure that any schedule that executed has the same effect as a schedule that could have occurred without any concurrent execution. That is, the schedule should, in some sense, be equivalent to a serial schedule.

Serializability

The database system must control concurrent execution of transactions, to ensure that the database state remains consistent. Before we examine how the database system can carry out this task, we must first understand which schedules will ensure consistency, and which schedules will not

Serializability

Schedule 4—a concurrent schedule.

Since transactions are programs, it is computationally difficult to determine exactly what operations a transaction performs and how operations of various transactions interact. For this reason, we shall not interpret the type of operations that a transaction can perform on a data item. Instead, we consider only two operations:read and write. We thus assume that, between a read(Q) instruction and a write(Q) instruction on a data item Q, a transaction may perform an arbitrary sequence of operations on the copy of Q that is residing in the local buffer of the transaction. Thus, the only significant operations of a transaction, from a scheduling point of view, are its read and write instructions. We shall therefore usually show only read and write instructions in schedules.

In this section, we discuss different forms of schedule equivalence; they lead to the notions of conflict serializability and view serializability.

notions of conflict serializability and view serializability

Schedule 3—showing only the read and write instructions.

Conflict Serializability

Let us consider a schedule S in which there are two consecutive instructions Ii and Ij, of transactions Ti and Tj , respectively (i ≠ j). If Ii and Ij refer to different data items, then we can swap Ii and Ij without affecting the results of any instruction in the schedule. However, if Ii and Ij refer to the same data item Q, then the order of the two steps maymatter. Since we are dealing with only read and write instructions, there are four cases that we need to consider:

  1. Ii = read(Q), Ij = read(Q). The order of Ii and Ij does not matter, since the same value of Q is read by Ti and Tj , regardless of the order.
  2. Ii = read(Q), Ij = write(Q). If Ii comes before Ij, then Ti does not read the value of Q that is written by Tj in instruction Ij. If Ij comes before Ii, then Ti reads the value of Q that is written by Tj. Thus, the order of Ii and Ij matters.
  3. Ii = write(Q), Ij = read(Q). The order of Ii and Ij matters for reasons similar to those of the previous case.
  4. Ii = write(Q), Ij = write(Q). Since both instructions are write operations, the order of these instructions does not affect either Ti or Tj . However, the value obtained by the next read(Q) instruction of S is affected, since the result of only the latter of the two write instructions is preserved in the database. If there is no other write(Q) instruction after Ii and Ij in S, then the order of Ii and Ij directly affects the final value of Q in the database state that results from schedule S.

Thus, only in the case where both Ii and Ij are read instructions does the relative order of their execution not matter. We say that Ii and Ij conflict if they are operations by different transactions on the same data item, and at least one of these instructions is a write operation. To illustrate the concept of conflicting instructions, we consider schedule 3, in Figure. The write(A) instruction of T1 conflicts with the read(A) instruction of T2.However, the write(A) instruction of T2 does not conflict with the read(B) instruction of T1, because the two instructions access different data items.

Let Ii and Ij be consecutive instructions of a schedule S. If Ii and Ij are instructions of different transactions and Ii and Ij do not conflict, then we can swap the order of Ii and Ij to produce a new schedule S'. We expect S to be equivalent to S', since all instructions appear in the same order in both schedules except for Ii and Ij, whose order does not matter.

Since the write(A) instruction of T2 in schedule 3 of Figure. does not conflict with the read(B) instruction of T1, we can swap these instructions to generate an equivalent schedule, schedule 5, in Figure Regardless of the initial system state, schedules 3 and 5 both produce the same final system state.We continue to swap nonconflicting instructions:

  • Swap the read(B) instruction of T1 with the read(A) instruction of T2.
  • Swap the write(B) instruction of T1 with the write(A) instruction of T2.
  • Swap the write(B) instruction of T1 with the read(A) instruction of T2.

Schedule 5—schedule 3 after swapping of a pair of instructions.

Schedule 5—schedule 3 after swapping of a pair of instructions.

The final result of these swaps, schedule 6 of Figure. is a serial schedule. Thus, we have shown that schedule 3 is equivalent to a serial schedule. This equivalence implies that, regardless of the initial system state, schedule 3 will produce the same final state as will some serial schedule.

If a schedule S can be transformed into a schedule S' by a series of swaps of nonconflicting instructions, we say that S and S' are conflict equivalent. In our previous examples, schedule 1 is not conflict equivalent to schedule 2.However, schedule 1 is conflict equivalent to schedule 3, because the read(B) and write(B) instruction of T1 can be swapped with the read(A) and write(A) instruction of T2.

The concept of conflict equivalence leads to the concept of conflict serializability. We say that a schedule S is conflict serializable if it is conflict equivalent to a serial schedule. Thus, schedule 3 is conflict serializable, since it is conflict equivalent to the serial schedule 1.

Finally, consider schedule 7 of Figure ; it consists of only the significant operations (that is, the read and write) of transactions T3 and T4. This schedule is not conflict serializable, since it is not equivalent to either the serial schedule <T3,T4> or the serial schedule <T4,T3>.

It is possible to have two schedules that produce the same outcome, but that are not conflict equivalent. For example, consider transaction T5, which transfers $10 from account B to account A. Let schedule 8 be as defined in Figure . We claim that schedule 8 is not conflict equivalent to the serial schedule <T1,T5>, since, in schedule 8, the write(B) instruction of T5 conflicts with the read(B) instruction of T1.

Thus, we cannot move all the instructions of T1 before those of T5 by swapping consecutive nonconflicting instructions. However, the final values of accounts A and B after the execution of either schedule 8 or the serial schedule <T1,T5> are the same $960 and $2040, respectively.

Schedule 6—a serial schedule that is equivalent to schedule 3

Schedule 6—a serial schedule that is equivalent to schedule 3.

Schedule 6—a serial schedule that is equivalent to schedule 3.

Schedule 7.

We can see from this example that there are less stringent definitions of schedule equivalence than conflict equivalence. For the system to determine that schedule 8 produces the same outcome as the serial schedule <T1,T5>, it must analyze the computation performed by T1 and T5, rather than just the read and write operations. In general, such analysis is hard to implement and is computationally expensive. However,there are other definitions of schedule equivalence based purely on the read and write operations.We will consider one such definition in the next section.

View Serializability

In this section, we consider a form of equivalence that is less stringent than conflict equivalence, but that, like conflict equivalence, is based on only the read and write operations of transactions.

View Serializability

Schedule 8.

Consider two schedules S and S', where the same set of transactions participates in both schedules. The schedules S and S' are said to be view equivalent if three conditions are met:

  1. For each data item Q, if transaction Ti reads the initial value of Q in schedule S, then transaction Ti must, in schedule S', also read the initial value of Q.
  2. For each data item Q, if transaction Ti executes read(Q) in schedule S, and if that value was produced by a write(Q) operation executed by transaction Tj , then the read(Q) operation of transaction Ti must, in schedule S', also read the value of Q that was produced by the same write(Q) operation of transaction Tj .
  3. For each data item Q, the transaction (if any) that performs the final write(Q) operation in schedule S must perform the final write(Q) operation in schedule S'.

Conditions 1 and 2 ensure that each transaction reads the same values in both schedules and, therefore, performs the same computation. Condition 3, coupled with conditions 1 and 2, ensures that both schedules result in the same final system state.

In our previous examples, schedule 1 is not view equivalent to schedule 2, since, in schedule 1, the value of account A read by transaction T2 was produced by T1, whereas this case does not hold in schedule 2. However, schedule 1 is view equivalent to schedule 3, because the values of account A and B read by transaction T2 were produced by T1 in both schedules.

The concept of view equivalence leads to the concept of view serializability. We say that a schedule S is view serializable if it is view equivalent to a serial schedule. As an illustration, suppose that we augment schedule 7 with transaction T6, and obtain schedule 9 in Figure . Schedule 9 is view serializable. Indeed, it is view equivalent to the serial schedule <T3, T4, T6>, since the one read(Q) instruction reads the initial value of Q in both schedules, and T6 performs the final write of Q in both schedules.

Every conflict-serializable schedule is also view serializable, but there are viewserializable schedules that are not conflict serializable. Indeed, schedule 9 is not conflict serializable, since every pair of consecutive instructions conflicts, and, thus, no swapping of instructions is possible.

Observe that, in schedule 9, transactions T4 and T6 perform write(Q) operations without having performed a read(Q) operation. Writes of this sort are called blind writes. Blind writes appear in any view-serializable schedule that is not conflict serializable.

Schedule 9—a view-serializable schedule.

Schedule 9—a view-serializable schedule.

Recoverability

So far, we have studied what schedules are acceptable from the viewpoint of consistency of the database, assuming implicitly that there are no transaction failures. We now address the effect of transaction failures during concurrent execution. If a transaction Ti fails, for whatever reason, we need to undo the effect of this transaction to ensure the atomicity property of the transaction. In a system that allows concurrent execution, it is necessary also to ensure that any transaction Tj that is dependent on Ti (that is, Tj has read data written by Ti) is also aborted. To achieve this surety, we need to place restrictions on the type of schedules permitted in the system.

In the following two subsections, we address the issue of what schedules are acceptable from the viewpoint of recovery from transaction failure. We describe in Concurrency Control how to ensure that only such acceptable schedules are generated.

Recoverable Schedules

Consider schedule 11 in Figure , in which T9 is a transaction that performs only one instruction: read(A). Suppose that the system allows T9 to commit immediately after executing the read(A) instruction. Thus, T9 commits before T8 does. Now suppose that T8 fails before it commits. Since T9 has read the value of data item A written by T8, we must abort T9 to ensure transaction atomicity. However, T9 has already committed and cannot be aborted. Thus, we have a situation where it is impossible to recover correctly from the failure of T8.

Schedule 11, with the commit happening immediately after the read(A) instruction, is an example of a nonrecoverable schedule, which should not be allowed. Most database system require that all schedules be recoverable. A recoverable schedule is one where, for each pair of transactions Ti and Tj such that Tj reads a data item previously written by Ti, the commit operation of Ti appears before the commit operationof Tj .

Cascadeless Schedules

Even if a schedule is recoverable, to recover correctly from the failure of a transaction Ti, we may have to roll back several transactions. Such situations occur if transactions have read data written by Ti. As an illustration, consider the partial schedule of Figure . Transaction T10 writes a value of A that is read by transaction T11.

Transaction T11 writes a value of A that is read by transaction T12. Suppose that, at this point, T10 fails. T10 must be rolled back. Since T11 is dependent on T10, T11 must be rolled back. Since T12 is dependent on T11, T12 must be rolled back. This phenomenon, in which a single transaction failure leads to a series of transaction rollbacks, is called cascading rollback.

Schedule 11.

Schedule 11.

Schedule 12.

Schedule 12.

Cascading rollback is undesirable, since it leads to the undoing of a significant amount of work. It is desirable to restrict the schedules to those where cascading rollbacks cannot occur. Such schedules are called cascadeless schedules. Formally, a cascadeless schedule is one where, for each pair of transactions Ti and Tj such that Tj reads a data item previously written by Ti, the commit operation of Ti appears before the read operation of Tj . It is easy to verify that every cascadeless schedule is also recoverable.

Implementation of Isolation

So far,we have seen what properties a schedule must have if it is to leave the database in a consistent state and allow transaction failures to be handled in a safe manner. Specifically, schedules that are conflict or view serializable and cascadeless satisfy these requirements.

There are various concurrency-control schemes that we can use to ensure that, even when multiple transactions are executed concurrently, only acceptable schedules are generated, regardless of how the operating-system time-shares resources (such as CPU time) among the transactions.

As a trivial example of a concurrency-control scheme, consider this scheme: A transaction acquires a lock on the entire database before it starts and releases the lock after it has committed. While a transaction holds a lock, no other transaction is allowed to acquire the lock, and all must therefore wait for the lock to be released. As a result of the locking policy, only one transaction can execute at a time. Therefore, only serial schedules are generated. These are trivially serializable, and it is easy to verify that they are cascadeless as well.

A concurrency-control scheme such as this one leads to poor performance, since it forces transactions to wait for preceding transactions to finish before they can start. In other words, it provides a poor degree of concurrency.

The goal of concurrency-control schemes is to provide a high degree of concurrency, while ensuring that all schedules that can be generated are conflict or view serializable, and are cascadeless. We study a number of concurrency-control schemes in Concurrency Control. The schemes have different trade-offs in terms of the amount of concurrency they allow and the amount of overhead that they incur. Some of them allow only conflict serializable schedules to be generated; others allow certain view-serializable schedules that are not conflict-serializable to be generated.

Transaction Definition in SQL

A data-manipulation language must include a construct for specifying the set of actions that constitute a transaction. The SQL standard specifies that a transaction begins implicitly. Transactions are ended by one of these SQL statements:

  • Commit work commits the current transaction and begins a new one.
  • Rollback work causes the current transaction to abort.
  • The keyword work is optional in both the statements. If a program terminates without either of these commands, the updates are either committed or rolled back which of the two happens is not specified by the standard and depends on the implementation. The standard also specifies that the system must ensure both serializability and freedom from cascading rollback. The definition of serializability used by the standardis that a schedule must have the same effect as would some serial schedule. Thus, conflict and view serializability are both acceptable.

    The SQL-92 standard also allows a transaction to specify that it may be executed in a manner that causes it to become nonserializable with respect to other transactions.

    Testing for Serializability

    When designing concurrency control schemes, we must show that schedules generated by the scheme are serializable. To do that, we must first understand how to determine, given a particular schedule S, whether the schedule is serializable. We now present a simple and efficient method for determining conflict serializability of a schedule. Consider a schedule S. We construct a directed graph, called a precedence graph, from S. This graph consists of a pair G = (V, E), where V is a set of vertices and E is a set of edges. The set of vertices consists of all the transactions participating in the schedule. The set of edges consists of all edges Ti →Tj for which one of three conditions holds:

    1. Ti executes write(Q) before Tj executes read(Q).
    2. Ti executes read(Q) before Tj executes write(Q).
    3. Ti executes write(Q) before Tj executes write(Q).

    Precedence graph for (a) schedule 1 and (b) schedule 2.

    Testing for Serializability

    If an edge Ti → Tj exists in the precedence graph, then, in any serial schedule S' equivalent to S, Ti must appear before Tj . For example, the precedence graph for schedule 1 in Figure a contains the single edge T1 → T2, since all the instructions of T1 are executed before the first instruction of T2 is executed. Similarly, Figure b shows the precedence graph for schedule 2 with the single edge T2 → T1, since all the instructions of T2 are executed before the first instruction of T1 is executed.

    The precedence graph for schedule 4 appears in Figure It contains the edge T1 →T2, because T1 executes read(A) before T2 executes write(A). It also contains the edge T2 → T1, because T2 executes read(B) before T1 executes write(B). If the precedence graph for S has a cycle, then schedule S is not conflict serializable.

    If the graph contains no cycles, then the schedule S is conflict serializable. A serializability order of the transactions can be obtained through topological sorting, which determines a linear order consistent with the partial order of the precedence graph. There are, in general, several possible linear orders that can be obtained through a topological sorting. For example, the graph of Figure a has the two acceptable linear orderings shown in Figures b and c.

    Thus, to test for conflict serializability, we need to construct the precedence graph and to invoke a cycle-detection algorithm. Cycle-detection algorithms can be found in standard textbooks on algorithms. Cycle-detection algorithms, such as those based on depth-first search, require on the order of n2 operations, where n is the number of vertices in the graph (that is, the number of transactions). Thus, we have a practicalscheme for determining conflict serializability.

    Returning to our previous examples, note that the precedence graphs for schedules 1 and 2 indeed do not contain cycles. The precedence graph for schedule 4 , on the other hand, contains a cycle, indicating that thisschedule is not conflict serializable. Testing for view serializability is rather complicated. In fact, it has been shown that the problem of testing for view serializability is itself NP-complete. Thus, almost certainly there exists no efficient algorithm to test for view serializability. See the bibliographical notes for references on testing for view serializability. However, concurrency-control schemes can still use sufficient conditions for view serializability. That is, if the sufficient conditions are satisfied, the schedule is view serializable, but there may be view-serializable schedules that do not satisfy the sufficient conditions.

    Precedence graph for schedule 4.

    Precedence graph for schedule 4.

    Illustration of topological sorting.

    Illustration of topological sorting.

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