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In computer science and software engineering, busy-waiting, busy-looping or spinning is a technique in which a process repeatedly checks to see if a condition is true, such as whether keyboard input or a lock is available. Spinning can also be used to generate an arbitrary time delay, a technique that was necessary on systems that lacked a method of waiting a specific length of time. Processor speeds vary greatly from computer to computer, especially as some processors are designed to dynamically adjust speed based on current workload. Consequently spinning as a time-delay technique can produce unpredictable or even inconsistent results on different systems unless code is included to determine the time a processor takes to execute a 'do nothing' loop, or the looping code explicitly checks a real-time clock. In most cases spinning is considered an anti-pattern and should be avoided, as processor time that could be used to execute a different task is instead wasted on useless activity. Spinning can be a valid strategy in certain circumstances, most notably in the implementation of spinlocks within operating systems designed to run on SMP systems. Example C code The following C code examples illustrate two threads that share a global integer i. The first thread uses busy-waiting to check for a change in the value of i:In a use case like this, one can consider using C11's condition variables. Alternatives Most operating systems and threading libraries provide a variety of system calls that will block the process on an event, such as lock acquisition, timer changes, I/O availability or signals. Using such calls generally produces the simplest, most efficient, fair, and race-free result.
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