On the inherent sequentiality of concurrent objects

Faith Ellen*, Danny Hendler, Nir Shavit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present O(n) lower bounds on the worst case time to perform a single instance of an operation in any nonblocking implementation of a large class of concurrent data structures shared by n processes. Time is measured by the number of stalls a process incurs as a result of contention with other processes. For standard data structures such as counters, stacks, and queues, our bounds are tight. The implementations considered may apply any primitives to a base object. No upper bounds are assumed on either the number of base objects or their size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-536
Number of pages18
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Covering
  • Distributed data structures
  • Lower bounds
  • Memory contention


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