DOI: 10.1145/3638553 ISSN: 0362-5915

Ad Hoc Transactions through the Looking Glass: An Empirical Study of Application-Level Transactions in Web Applications

Zhaoguo Wang, Chuzhe Tang, Xiaodong Zhang, Qianmian Yu, Binyu Zang, Haibing Guan, Haibo Chen
  • Information Systems

Many transactions in web applications are constructed ad hoc in the application code. For example, developers might explicitly use locking primitives or validation procedures to coordinate critical code fragments. We refer to database operations coordinated by application code as ad hoc transactions . Until now, little is known about them. This paper presents the first comprehensive study on ad hoc transactions. By studying 91 ad hoc transactions among 8 popular open-source web applications, we found that (i) every studied application uses ad hoc transactions (up to 16 per application), 71 of which play critical roles; (ii) compared with database transactions, concurrency control of ad hoc transactions is much more flexible; (iii) ad hoc transactions are error-prone—53 of them have correctness issues, and 33 of them are confirmed by developers; and (iv) ad hoc transactions have the potential for improving performance in contentious workloads by utilizing application semantics such as access patterns. Based on these findings, we discuss the implications of ad hoc transactions to the database research community.

More from our Archive