On the inherent weakness of conditional primitives

Faith Ellen Fich, Danny Hendler, Nir Shavit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Some well-known primitive operations, such as compare-and-swap, can be used, together with read and write, to implement any object in a wait-free manner. However, this paper shows that, for a large class of objects, including counters, queues, stacks, and single-writer snapshots, wait-free implementations using only these primitive operations and a large class of other primitive operations cannot be space efficient: the number of base objects required is at least linear in the number of processes that share the implemented object. The same lower bounds are obtained for implementations of starvation-free mutual exclusion using only primitive operations from this class. For wait-free implementations of a closely related class of one-time objects, lower bounds on the tradeoff between time and space are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-277
Number of pages11
JournalDistributed Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditionals
  • Mutual exclusion
  • Object implementations
  • Space lower bounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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