Latest Articles

The Cost Of Consistency: When 9ms Is 1s Too Much

The CAP theorem remains one of the most important tools in my software developer's toolbelt. Used correctly, it can help create services and products that can offer an excellent user experience and protect revenue during partial failures. Used incorrectly, it can lead to a poor user experience and loss ... read more

Pessimistic Optimism: The Case Of Unexpected Deadlocks

Despite the fact I've been developing software in one way or another for almost 20 years, I'm constantly surprised how things work, and, once the frustration wears off, I'm intrigued when things break. Lucky for me, over the last few weeks, I've been surprised, frustrated, and ... read more

Perceiving The Effects Of Cache Coherency In Spin Locks

The "test-and-test-and-set" algorithm is a fairly well-understood solution to reducing latency in spin locks. In particular, the algorithm is often employed to reduce the latency exhibited in the similar "test-and-set" algorithm. Understanding how and why a seeming-superfluous read results in lower latency is rather interesting. ... read more

Downcasting Longs To Ints On x86

Last week, my esteemed colleague and close friend asked a remarkably straight-forward question about downcasting a long to an int in Java. I'll admit the question caught me off guard. While the JLS offered the correct answer, I couldn't help but ponder what's actually happening in the ... read more

The Concurrency Of ConcurrentHashMap

Java's ConcurrentHashMap is an excellent point of study when learning about Java's Memory Model. It employs numerous techniques to provide lock-free reads while still guaranteeing safe publication of objects. This article represents my attempt to take the magic out of the ConcurrentHashMap implementation. ... read more

Latest Notes

Fun MySQL fact of the day: REPLACE your expectations

So, if we agree that we should avoid using INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE and INSERT IGNORE, surely we can use REPLACE INTO to upsert a row, right?! And yes, you can, if you want a DoS bug feature or account/identity takeover vulnerability in your multi-tenant system. Yep, this ... read more

Fun MySQL fact of the day: IGNORE at your own peril

Yesterday, we saw how INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE can unknowingly result in not-completely-expected situations. To get around that, you may have thought to use INSERT IGNORE, instead. Often, INSERT IGNORE is used when attempting to insert a row that may already exist. The underlying expectation a developer often has ... read more


As developers, part of our job is ensuring system stability long after we are finished writing code. It is our responsibility to ensure the next developer in our place doesn't inherit a system littered with landmines and that our customers' data integrity and privacy is always a top priority ... read more

Fun MySQL fact of the day: implicit rollbacks

Last Thursday, I suggested that you may not always want your transactions automatically rolled-back on an ACID violation, and, on Monday, I hinted that transaction rollbacks are nearly the most expensive thing you can do in MySQL/InnoDB. And, well, it's because of the very same "undo logs" about ... read more

Fun MySQL fact of the day: too much history

Yesterday, we discussed that InnoDB stores "old" record versions in an undo log, but we didn't discuss where undo logs are stored. While it's amusing to think it's turtles all the way down, it's actually a lot simpler: undo logs are stored inside InnoDB (and in ... read more

Fun MySQL fact of the day: nothing isn't free

Nothing isn't free in InnoDB. When a transaction rolls-back in MySQL/InnoDB, the "or-nothing" part of "all-or-nothing" is close to being the most expensive thing you can do in MySQL. While we can dig deep into the internals to find out why, we've already gone over all the ... read more