Priority inheritance

In real-time computing, priority inheritance is a method for eliminating priority inversion. Using this programming method, a process scheduling algorithm increases the priority of a process (A) to the maximum priority of any other process waiting for any resource on which A has a resource lock (if it is higher than the original priority of A).

The basic idea of the priority inheritance protocol is that when a job blocks one or more high-priority jobs, it ignores its original priority assignment and executes its critical section at an elevated priority level. After executing its critical section and releasing its locks, the process returns to its original priority level.


Consider three jobs:

Job Name Priority
H High
M Medium
L Low

Suppose H is blocked by L for some shared resource. The priority inheritance protocol requires that L executes its critical section at H's (high) priority. As a result, M will be unable to preempt L and will be blocked. That is, the higher-priority job M must wait for the critical section of the lower priority job L to be executed, because L has inherited H's priority. When L exits its critical section, it regains its original (low) priority and awakens H (which was blocked by L). H, having high priority, preempts L and runs to completion. This enables M and L to resume in succession and run to completion.

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