Dekker’s Algorithm

Definition of Dekker’s Algorithm

Dekker’s Algorithm is a mutual exclusion solution developed by Dutch computer scientist Th. J. Dekker. It is designed for two concurrent processes that need to access a shared resource without causing conflicts or race conditions. The algorithm employs busy waiting and a combination of flags and turn variables to ensure only one process enters the critical section at a time, enabling safe access to the shared resource.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Dekker’s Algorithm” would be:Dekker’s: DEH-kurzAlgorithm: AL-guh-rith-uhm

Key Takeaways

  1. Dekker’s Algorithm is a mutual exclusion solution for two threads that provides safety, liveness, and bounded bypass conditions without relying on atomic or special hardware instructions.
  2. The algorithm uses shared memory and works through three variables: a pair of flags indicating the intent to enter the critical section for each thread and a shared turn variable to decide which process has priority.
  3. Dekker’s Algorithm is the first known solution to mutual exclusion that satisfies all three conditions and provides correct synchronization between the two threads, serving as a foundation for other concurrency control mechanisms.

Importance of Dekker’s Algorithm

Dekker’s Algorithm is a significant technology term because it is one of the first-ever software solutions developed to address the critical problem of mutual exclusion in concurrent programming. Devised by Dutch computer scientist Th.

J. Dekker, this algorithm allows multiple processes to share resources in a manner that avoids conflicts, ensures no process is executing in its critical section simultaneously, and maintains progress.

Dekker’s Algorithm serves as a foundation for understanding and building more sophisticated synchronization algorithms in concurrent systems. Its simplicity, historical significance, and effectiveness in ensuring shared resource access make it a crucial concept in computer science and the field of synchronization.


Dekker’s Algorithm serves the purpose of providing mutual exclusion for two concurrently running threads or processes in a shared computing environment. In such systems, it’s crucial for these threads to have an orderly and controlled access to a shared resource, such as a database or an input device, in order to avoid conflicts or inconsistency in the data being used.

By utilizing Dekker’s Algorithm, each process can safely and efficiently access the shared resource without the risk of interruptions or interference from the other process. The algorithm achieves its goal by employing a mechanism that enforces the processes to enter a critical section one at a time, ensuring that they do not execute simultaneously.

Through the use of flags and a “turnstile” system, Dekker’s Algorithm allows the processes to communicate their intentions to access the shared resource, with one process having to yield to the other while accessing the critical section. As a result, the concurrent processes can operate smoothly, while maintaining system integrity and avoiding issues such as resource starvation or deadlocks that might arise in the absence of a well-structured mutual exclusion mechanism.

Examples of Dekker’s Algorithm

Dekker’s Algorithm, proposed by Dutch computer scientist Edsger W. Dekker, is a software-based solution to the mutual exclusion problem in concurrent programming, where multiple processes need to access shared resources without causing conflicts or race conditions. Although the algorithm was originally designed for process synchronization in operating systems, it has been applied to various fields that require shared resource access. Here are three real-world examples:

Industrial Automation: The algorithm can be implemented in industrial automation systems, such as robotics and programmable logic controllers, where multiple operations need to share resources like sensors, actuators, and memory without causing any conflicts. Dekker’s Algorithm allows different processes to access the shared resources in a controlled manner, ensuring that only one operation can use the resource at a time.

Traffic Control Systems: Traffic light synchronization is crucial for efficiently managing traffic flow in large cities. Dekker’s Algorithm can be adopted for coordinating traffic signals to ensure that only one vehicle or pedestrian stream has the green light at any given moment. This synchronization reduces the risk of potential accidents and promotes better traffic flow.

Distributed Database Systems: In a multiuser database environment, users often need to access and modify shared data concurrently. In such cases, Dekker’s Algorithm can be employed to manage concurrent access to the shared data. By allowing only one transaction to modify the data at a time, the algorithm prevents issues like data inconsistency and maintains data integrity.These real-world examples demonstrate the importance and versatility of Dekker’s Algorithm in solving synchronization and mutual exclusion challenges in various domains.

FAQ – Dekker’s Algorithm

What is Dekker’s Algorithm?

Dekker’s Algorithm is a mutual exclusion solution developed by Dutch computer scientist Theo Dekker in 1965. It is one of the earliest and simplest solutions used in concurrent programming for ensuring that two or more threads can access shared resources without conflicts or overlapping.

How does Dekker’s Algorithm work?

Dekker’s Algorithm uses shared memory in the form of flags and a turn variable to ensure mutual exclusion. The flags are used to indicate a process’s intention to enter the critical section, while the turn variable determines whose turn it is to enter the critical section. If a process notices that another process is already in or trying to enter the critical section, it waits until the other process has finished.

What are the key features of Dekker’s Algorithm?

Dekker’s Algorithm is notable for its simplicity and ease of implementation. Key features include:
1. Mutual exclusion: Only one process can enter the critical section at a time.
2. Bounded waiting: A process will only wait for a finite number of turns before entering the critical section.
3. Progress: If no process is in the critical section and some processes are trying to enter, at least one of them will eventually succeed.
4. No lockout: A process can’t indefinitely prevent another process from entering the critical section.

Is Dekker’s Algorithm limited to two processes or can it be extended to more?

Dekker’s Algorithm is designed specifically for two processes. Although there have been attempts to generalize it for more than two processes, it doesn’t scale well and has become less popular for multiple process management. Other algorithms like Lamport’s Bakery Algorithm and Peterson’s Algorithm are better suited for achieving mutual exclusion with multiple processes.

What are some use cases for Dekker’s Algorithm?

Dekker’s Algorithm is best suited for small-scale systems where two concurrent processes need to access shared resources. Applications include multi-threaded programs, operating systems, and any system where two processes need to coordinate access to critical sections without causing conflicts, race conditions, or deadlocks.

Related Technology Terms

  • Mutual Exclusion
  • Concurrency Control
  • Critical Section
  • Process Synchronization
  • Lock Variable

Sources for More Information


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