Cancellation in Systems: An Empirical Study of Task Cancellation Patterns and Failures

Authors: 

Utsav Sethi and Haochen Pan, University of Chicago; Shan Lu, University of Chicago and Microsoft; Madanlal Musuvathi and Suman Nath, Microsoft Research

Abstract: 

Modern software applications rely on the execution and coordination of many different kinds of tasks. Often overlooked is the need to sometimes prematurely terminate or cancel a task, either to accommodate a conflicting task, to manage system resources, or in response to system or user events that make the task irrelevant. In this paper, we studied 62 cancel-feature requests and 156 cancel-related bugs across 13 popular distributed and concurrent systems written in Java, C#, and Go to understand why task cancel is needed, what are the challenges in implementing task cancel, and how severe are cancel-related failures. Guided by the study, we generalized a few cancel-related anti-patterns, and implemented static checkers that found many code snippets matching these anti-patterns in the latest versions of these popular systems. We hope this study will help guide better and more systematic approaches to task cancellation.

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BibTeX
@inproceedings {280880,
author = {Utsav Sethi and Haochen Pan and Shan Lu and Madanlal Musuvathi and Suman Nath},
title = {Cancellation in Systems: An Empirical Study of Task Cancellation Patterns and Failures},
booktitle = {16th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-28-1},
address = {Carlsbad, CA},
pages = {127--141},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/osdi22/presentation/sethi},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul,
}

Presentation Video