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Double check pattern

I just answered a question at SO about lazy loading which involved the double check pattern. It’s a really useful pattern for lazy loading since it hurt performance a lot less than always locking.

I thought that I should share explain why by using some comments:

public sealed class Lazy<T> where T : class
{
    private readonly object _syncRoot = new object();
    private readonly Func<T> _factory;
    private T _value;

    public Lazy(Func<T> factory)
    {
        if (factory == null) throw new ArgumentNullException("factory");

        _factory = factory;
    }

    public T Value
    {
        get
        {
            // here is the first check. It only returns true
            // if the instance have not been created, right?
            if (_value == null)
            {
                // so when we enter here, we are within a very small time frame:
                // That is from the above check until the new instance is
                // assigned to the variable.

                // Which is a <strong>very</strong> small time frame
                // (unless you rely on external resources).

                // So let's lock to make sure that no other thread
                // have already started to create the object.
                lock (_syncRoot)
                { 
                    // We enter here as soon as any other thread (if there were one)
                    // have stopped working, which means that the value could 
                    // have been assigned.

                    // So let's check if another thread have already done the work for us.
                    if (_value == null)
                    {
                        //no, so let's create the object.
                        _value = _factory();
                    }
                }
            }
            return _value;
        }
    }

    public override string ToString()
    {
        return _value == null ? "Not created" : _value.ToString();
    }
}

The double check pattern allows us to have lock free code (other than when the instance is created) which is a huge performance gain compared to using a single lock.

Feel three to use the code in .NET versions earlier than 4.

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  • http://pentonizer.com David L. Penton

    Have you seen this article by Jon Skeet? It would let you know that the double-check singleton pattern isn’t a good one to follow as other patterns perform better and are easier to get “correct”.

    http://csharpindepth.com/Articles/General/Singleton.aspx