What is Starvation? What is a Livelock?

Starvation and livelock are much less common a problem than deadlock, but are still problems that every designer of concurrent software is likely to encounter.

LiveLock

Livelock occurs when all threads are blocked, or are otherwise unable to proceed due to unavailability of required resources, and the non-existence of any unblocked thread to make those resources available. In terms of Java API, thread livelock can occur in following conditions:
  • When all the threads in a program execute Object.wait(0) on an object with zero parameter. The program is live-locked and cannot proceed until one or more threads call Object.notify() or Object.notifyAll() on the relevant objects. Because all the threads are blocked, neither call can be made.
  • When all the threads in a program are stuck in infinite loops.
Starvation

Starvation describes a situation where a thread is unable to gain regular access to shared resources and is unable to make progress. This happens when shared resources are made unavailable for long periods by "greedy" threads. For example, suppose an object provides a synchronized method that often takes a long time to return. If one thread invokes this method frequently, other threads that also need frequent synchronized access to the same object will often be blocked. Starvation occurs when one thread cannot access the CPU because one or more other threads are monopolizing the CPU. In Java, thread starvation can be caused by setting thread priorities inappropriately. A lower-priority thread can be starved by higher-priority threads if the higher-priority threads do not yield control of the CPU from time to time.

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