Ernie Cohen

Coherent causal memory (CCM) is causal memory in which prefixes of an execution can be mapped to global memory states in a consistent way. While CCM requires conflicting pairs of writes to be globally ordered, it allows writes to remain unordered with respect to both reads and nonconflicting writes. Nevertheless, it supports assertional, state-based program reasoning using generalized Owicki-Gries proof outlines (where assertions can be attached to any causal program edge). Indeed, we show that from a reasoning standpoint, CCM differs from sequentially consistent (SC) memory only in that ghost code added by the user is not allowed to introduce new write-write races. While CCM provides most of the formal reasoning leverage of SC memory, it is much more efficiently implemented. As an illustration, we describe a simple programming discipline that provides CCM on top of x86-TSO. The discipline is considerably more relaxed than the one needed to ensure SC; for example, it introduces no burden whatsoever for programs in which at most one thread writes to any variable.

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