In information technology and computer science, especially in the fields of computer programming, operating systems, multiprocessors, and databases, concurrency control ensures that correct results for concurrent operations are generated, while getting those results as quickly as possible.
Computer systems, both software and hardware, consist of modules, or components. Each component is designed to operate correctly, i.e., to obey or to meet certain consistency rules. When components that operate concurrently interact by messaging or by sharing accessed data (in memory or storage), a certain component’s consistency may be violated by another component. The general area of concurrency control provides rules, methods, design methodologies, and theories to maintain the consistency of components operating concurrently while interacting, and thus the consistency and correctness of the whole system. Introducing concurrency control into a system means applying operation constraints which typically result in some performance reduction. Operation consistency and correctness should be achieved with as good as possible efficiency, without reducing performance below reasonable levels. Concurrency control can require significant additional complexity and overhead in a concurrent algorithm compared to the simpler sequential algorithm.
For example, a failure in concurrency control can result in data corruption from torn read or write operations.
Concurrency control in Database management systems are performed concurrently without violating the data integrity of the respective databases. Thus concurrency control is an essential element for correctness in any system where two database transactions or more, executed with time overlap, can access the same data, e.g., virtually in any general-purpose database system. Consequently, a vast body of related research has been accumulated since database systems emerged in the early 1970s. A well established concurrency control theory for database systems is outlined in the references mentioned above: serializability theory, which allows to effectively design and analyze concurrency control methods and mechanisms. An alternative theory for concurrency control of atomic transactions over abstract data types is presented in (Lynch et al. 1993), and not utilized below. This theory is more refined, complex, with a wider scope, and has been less utilized in the Database literature than the classical theory above. Each theory has its pros and cons, emphasis and insight. To some extent they are complementary, and their merging may be useful.
To ensure correctness, a DBMS usually guarantees that only serializable transaction schedules are generated, unless serializability is intentionally relaxed to increase performance, but only in cases where application correctness is not harmed. For maintaining correctness in cases of failed (aborted) transactions (which can always happen for many reasons) schedules also need to have the recoverability (from abort) property. A DBMS also guarantees that no effect of committed transactions is lost, and no effect of aborted (rolled back) transactions remains in the related database. Overall transaction characterization is usually summarized by the ACID rules below. As databases have become distributed, or needed to cooperate in distributed environments (e.g., Federated databases in the early 1990, and Cloud computing currently), the effective distribution of concurrency control mechanisms has received special attention.