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Oppsumering av TTK4145 Lot of theory and discussion, some fomulas, spring 2021. 2021-05-04 true

Fault tolerance

Hard to capture faults.


  • 1 bug per 50 lines before testing
  • 1 bug per 500 at release
  • 1 bug per 550 after a year, the constant
  1. Make the program work within specs.
  2. Run/Tests of the program-
  3. Errors happen
  4. Locate errors
    • Incomplete spec
    • Missing handleling of som situation
  5. Fix code

Traditional error handeling

{% highlight java %} FILE * openConfigFile(){ FILE * f = fopen("/path/to/config.conf"); if (f == NULL) { switch(errno){ case ENOMEM: { ... break; } case ENOTDIR: { ... break; } // Do this for all errors } } } {% endhighlight %}

Causes of errors

  • Incomplete specification
  • Software bugs
  • HW problems
  • Communication problems

Fault tolerance in real time systems

The problem with traditional errorhandleing is that errors can happen at any possible time. This is extremely hard to test.

This is some of the error handling real time programming have.

  • Handling of unexpected errors
  • More threads hanles errors
  • Can not test the conventional way
    • Can only show extistence of errors
    • Can not find errors in specification
    • Can not find race conditions

The fault path is shown under.

Fault tolerance

With fault tolerance the path looks something more like the figure under.

Fault tolerance

Error handling

Keep it simple!

The error modes is a part of the module interface.

One way is to handle all errors the same way. Handle the as if it was the worst error. Crash and start again.

A different approach is to check that everything is OK.

To test how the systems responds for a unknown error is to insert a failed acceptance test (a not OK signal).


  • If I have $N$ copies of my data, it is possible to handle that one is destroyed.
  • Sending $N$ messages, trying $N$ times.

Static redundancy

  • $N$ active copies. Sending $N$ messages if it is necessary or not.
  • Detecting errors is not important.
  • Handles cosmic rays easily.

Dynammic redunancy

  • Relies on detecting the error and recovering
    • Resend if timeout and not receiving "ack"
    • Go with default if no messages have been received
  • The acceptancetest must be good.

Fault model

Example with storage functions.

Step 1: Failure modes

Find the failure modes: What could go wrong?

  • Write: May return "I failed". Does not know why it faield
  • Read: May return "I failed". Does not know why it failed.

Step 2: Detect, Simplify, Inject errors

  • Write information on where/what/how the process is doing.
  • All errors --> Fail
  • Inject errors

Step 3: Handling with redundancy

  • Have multiple copies of the the information
    • Use only the newest

Example with communication function

Step 1: Failure modes

  • Message
    • Lost
    • Delayed
    • Corrupted
    • Duplicated
    • Wrong recipient

Step 2: Detection, Merging of errormodes and error injection

  • Adding information to message
    • Checksum
    • Session ID
    • Sequence number
  • Adding "ack" on well recieved messages
  • All errors will be treaded as "Lost message"
  • Injection
    • Occasionally throw away some messages

Step 3: Handling with redundancy

  • Timeout
  • Retransmit message

Example with processes and caculations

A calculation is an abstract, so how can we talk generally about the failure modes.

Step 1: Failure modes

One failure mode

Step 2: Detect, simplify, inject errors

All failed acceptance tests will "PANIC" or "STOP".

Step 3: Handling with redundancy

There are three solutions:

  1. Checkpoint restart
    • Do all the work incuding the acceptance test
    • Wait with the "side effects"
    • Store a checkpoint
    • Do the "side effects"
  2. Process pairs * Crash and let an another process take over
  3. Presistent processes


A transaction is a design framework for Damage Confinement and Error Recovery.

  • An atomic action, just without the backward recovery error mode as standard mode
  • invincible and instantaneous "calculation" seen from the outside
  • A transformation from one consistent state to another'
  • A modular computation

Four features: ACID

  • Atomicity: Either all side effects happens or none
  • Concistency: Leaves the system in a consistent state when finished
  • Isolation: Errors does not spread
  • Durability: Results are not lost

Atomic Actions

Resumption vs. Termination mode

  • If we continue where we were (e.g. after the interrupt) --> Resumption
  • If we continue somewhere else (i.e. terminating what we where doing) --> Termination

Async Notification (AN) = Low level thread interaction

  • Async event handling. ("Signals") (resumption)
    • Modeled after a HW interrupt
    • Can be sent to the correct thread
    • Can be handled, ignored, blocked --> The domain can be controlled.
    • Often lead to polling
      • Could rather skip the signal and poll a status variable or a message queue
      • Useless
  • ATC --> Async transfer of Control (termination)
    • Canceling threads
    • setjmpt/longjmp could convert signals to ATC (not really, but still)
    • ADA: a strictured mechanism for ATV is integraded with the selected statement
    • RT Java: A structured mechanism for ATC is integraded with the exception-handling mechanism

Cancelling threads

Yes, killing threads is ATC!

  • Can make termination model by letting domain be a thread
    • "Create a doWork thread, and kill it if the action fails"
  • Ca still control domain by disabling "cancelstate"

But, but, but: It leaves ut in undifined state!?

  • Not if we have...
    • Full control over changed state (like logs or recovery points) or some other way of recovering well.
    • A lock manager that can unlock on behalf of killed thread
    • Some control of where we were killed (like nok in the middle of a lock manager or log call)
  • An this is what we have!

Shared variable synchronization

Non-Preemptive scheduling

Controlling a pump filling a tank.


  • Every second: measure the water level of the tank and generate the reference to the pump
  • 10 times a second: Set the power of the pump motor
  • Do some GUI: let the human control the process

A trivial solution: "Cyclic Exectutive"

{% highlight java %} oldTime = now(); i = 0; while(true) { i = i + 1; if (i % 10 == 0) { i = 0; calculatePumpReference(); } controlPump(); do { handleUserEvent(); } while(now() < oldTime + 0.1); oldTime = oldTime + 0.1; } {% endhighlight %}


  • OK tasks?
  • Timing hard to tune (what if pump sampling should be $\pi$/10?)
  • Overload (what if calucaltePumpReference uses more than 1/10 seconds?)
  • How to add new tasks? (Everything is coupled)
  • Waste of time in the do-loop?
  • What is priority of handleUserEvents?
  • How are erros, exceptions, alarms etc. handled?

Better soulution with Non-preemptive scheduler

  • 3 taskts administered by a scheduler
  • The scheduler takes care of who runs and timing
  • Scheduler often inculuded in OSes
  • Introducing priorities

{% highlight java %} /** * scheduler_registerThread(function, time, priority) * Higher priority numer means higher priority in scheduler */ main() { scheduler_registrerThread(controlPump, 0.1, 3); scheduler_registrerThread(calculatePumpReference, 1, 2); scheduler_registrerThread(handleUserEvents, 0.2, 1); scheduler_mainLoop(); } {% endhighlight %}

Some notes on priorities

  • Priority is generally not important; rather, the main rule is to give higher priority to shorter-deadline tasks.
    • This allows tasks to reach its deadlines.
  • ... but this is not always the case - if e.g. the tasks are cooperating
  • We still handle overload badly
  • And: What connection between deadline and priority to start with?
    • Is this a good dependency seen from a code quality perspective?

Pros and cons of nonpreemptive scheduling

Pros Cons
Simple, intuitive, predictable C macro hell
No kernel Threads must cooperate <-- a form of dependency breaking module boundaries
Fast switching times Heavy threads must be divided
Some elegant sunchronization patterns possible Can we handle blocking of library functions?
Unrobust to errors
Unrobust to (heavy) error handling
Hard to tune at end of project
{: .table-responsive-lg .table }

Preemptive Kernel

  • Preemption, thread objects and the timer interrupt
  • Enabling synchronization: Busy waiting, tes-and-set, disabling the timer interrupt
  • Blocking and suspend & resume
  • An API for synchronization? Semaphores!


  • Make a handler for a timer interrupt
  • Store all registers (including IP & SP) in a "thread object"
  • Organize queue of processes (Round Robin e.g. - a collection of thread objects?)
  • Can synchronize by: while(!ready); (busy wating, "spin locks")

Bad solution

{% highlight java%} while(lock==1) {} lock = 1; // We may run lock = 0; {% endhighlight %}

Better solution

{% highlight java%} void t1() { flag1 = 1; // Declare my intention turn = 2; // But try to be polite while(flag2 == 1 && turn == 2) {} // We may run flag1 = 0; } {% endhighlight %}

Looking more closely at the arsenal

How can we make basic synchronization under preemption?

  • Spin locks (wasting time and cpu)
  • Test&Set (swap) assembly instruction (atomic, but not obvious)
  • Disable interrupt (steals control from OS/scheduler)


  • If we disable the timer interrupt we don not have preemption any more
  • And... Are these good abstractions in the application programmer domain?

Blocked threads

Let us introduce another queue; the collection of threads not running, waiting for something

  • Fixes the bad performance of spin locks. Is conceptually better.
  • suspend moves a thread object from "run" queue to "blocked" queue
  • resume moves it back.
Two bad solutions

{% highlight java%} t1(){ while(busy == 1) suspend(); busy = 1; // It is free; tak it - No // Run busy = 0; // Release resource

resume t2 // No

} {% endhighlight %}


{% highlight java%} t1(){ while(TestNSet(busy, 1) == 1) suspend(); // We own resource // Run busy = 0;

resume t2 // No

} {% endhighlight %}

The suspend/resume problem

{% highlight java%} // Global variables bool g_initDone = False;

// Threads t1(){ t2(){ /* Do init */ if (g_initDone == False) { g_initDone = True; Suspend(); resume(t2) } // Continue executing // Continue exectuting } } {% endhighlight %}


  • Threads mey have different priorities. (A sortet run-queue, or more of them.)
  • Only if there are no running threads on a higher priority, a thread will run.
  • We are not aiming for some sens of fairness (!). But predictability.
  • And priorities supports schedulability proofs.
  • But we open ourselves up to starvation. A thread may not ever get to run, even if it is runnable.

Application-level syncronization

SO, the application programmer needs some syncronozation primitives...

  • sleep()? - Ok
  • Publish suspend and resume - No
  • Events (wait and signal) - Just named versions of suspend & resume semantics.
    • Fixes the need to know aboud "thread objects". But no
  • ...or "Condition variables" - same


A counting semaphore

  • signal(SEM) increases the counter (possibly resuming a thread waiting for the semaphore)
  • wait(SEM) decrements the counter - will block (be suspended) if SEM == 0
    • The semaphores value can not be negative
  • Of course; These calls are protected from interleaving by disabling the timer interrupt

We solve beautifully:

  • Mutual Exclusion
  • Conditional Synchronization (ref suspend/resume)
  • Basic resource allocation

Semaphore variations

  • wait and signal nay take parameter value to add or subtract
  • getValue(SEM) returning the value of the semaphore. (Fishy)
  • BInary semaphores (signal will fail if SEM == 1)
  • Who is woken at signal (FIFO, Arbitrary, Highest priority)
  • The mutex
    • binary
    • ownership
    • allows mulitple waits by owner
    • regions (may be released by Javas wait or POSIX condition variables)
  • RTFM

Semaphore challenges

  • Breaks modules (both ways)
    • Does not scale!
  • Deadlocks
    • Global analysis --> Does not scale
  • Can not release "temporarily
  • "Limited expressive power". Some reasonalbe problems are hard to solve

Why shared-variable synchronization

Why not?

  • "Shared variables" is bad code quality
    • Ref global variables, and data members in module interfaces
  • An obvious bottleneck? Scales terribly
  • "Variables" are passive objects
    • They can not protect themselves
  • Why use synchronization when it is communication we need?
  • Technology transfers badly to distibuted systems
  • ... and this is before we start discussing how hard it is


  • Part of the "real-time" design pattern
    • "One thread per timing demand"
    • We do have scheduling proofs and best practises
  • Timing analysis is global anyway
    • Scalability and deadlock analysis may not be the limiting constraint
  • HW is shared memory architecture
    • Infrastucture is avalible
  • Communication systems requires infrastucture that we may not have

All resources are shared!

  • Memory, certainly
  • "Hidden" memory used by libraries (.. your own modules and the kernel)
    • If the library takes care of this itself, it is called "reentrant"
  • Sensors and actuators
  • "CPU" - Computing capacity
    • This is real-time programming; We solve it by Scheduling
  • ... any other interface