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Table of contents
Problem Statement      
Possibility of Deadlock
Possibility of Starvation
Dining-Philosophers Solution Using Monitor
Frequently Asked Questions
What are monitors in OS?
What is the advantage of using the monitor in the operating system?
What happens if all the philosophers pick the left fork first and then the right fork in the DP problem?
How many philosophers may eat simultaneously in the dining philosophers problem with five philosophers if they all picked up a fork simultaneously?
Recommended Reading
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Dining Philosopher Solution Using Monitors

Author Sanjana Yadav
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The Dining Philosopher's Problem is one of the classic problems we study when we study the operating system. It helps us understand the problems we might face in synchronization and concurrency. This problem also helps us to identify multiple solutions for the same. In this article, we are going to discuss the solution to this problem using Monitors however this problem can also be solved using Semaphores, the link to that article can be found here.

Also Read, FCFS Scheduling Algorithm, Multiprogramming vs Multitasking

Problem Statement      

"Five philosophers sit around a circular table. Each philosopher spends his life alternatively thinking and eating. In the center of the table is a large plate of spaghetti. A philosopher needs two forks to eat a helping of spaghetti. Unfortunately, as philosophy is not as well paid as computing, the philosophers can only afford five forks. One fork is placed between each pair of philosophers, and they agree that each will only use the fork to his immediate right and left."

So, the problem can be seen as :

N philosophers seated around a circular table

  • There is one fork between each philosopher. 
  • To eat, a philosopher must pick up their two nearest forks.
  •  A philosopher must pick up one fork at a time, not both at once.
Philosopher Table

Possibility of Deadlock

If philosophers take one fork at a time, taking a fork from the left and then one from the right, there is a danger of deadlock.

This possibility of deadlock means that any solution to the problem must include some provision for preventing or otherwise dealing with deadlocks.

Possibility of Starvation

If philosophers take two forks at a time, there is a possibility of starvation. Philosophers P2 & P5 and P1 & P3 can alternate in a way that starves out philosopher P4.

This possibility of starvation means that any solution to the problem must include some provision for preventing starvation.

We require an algorithm to distribute these restricted resources (forks) across numerous processes (philosophers) in such a way that the solution is free from deadlock and starvation.


Some algorithms exist to solve the Dining – Philosopher Problem, although they may have a deadlock situation.

Furthermore, a deadlock-free solution does not always imply a starvation-free solution.

Due to programming flaws, semaphores can cause deadlock.

Monitors alone will not be sufficient to address this problem; we will need monitors with condition variables.

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Dining-Philosophers Solution Using Monitor

We demonstrate monitor ideas by proposing a deadlock-free solution to the Dining-Philosophers problem. The monitor is used to control access to state variables and condition variables. It only notifies when to enter and exit the segment.

This approach imposes the limitation that a philosopher may only take up her forks if both the forks are available.

To code this solution, we must distinguish between three situations where we could see a philosopher. We introduce the following data structure for this purpose:

Thinking: When the philosopher does not want to use either fork.

Hungry: When a philosopher wishes to use the forks, i.e., he wants to go to the critical section.

Eating: When the philosopher has both forks, i.e., he has entered the critical section.

Philosopher i may set the variable state[i] = Eating, Only if her two neighbours are not eating,i.e., (state[(i+4)%5]!= Eating) and (state[(i+1)%5]!= Eating).

Solution Code

// Dining-Philosophers Solution Using Monitors
monitor DiningPhilosophers
    status state[5];
    condition self[5];

    // Picking up forks
    void Pick(int i)
        // indicating HUNGRY state
        state[i] = HUNGRY;

        // setting state to EATING in test()
        // only if the left and right neighbors if current        //philosopher are not EATING

        // if unable to eat,then waiting to be signaled
        if (state[i] != EATING)

   // Putting down the forks
    void Put(int i)

        // indicating THINKING state
        state[i] = THINKING;

        // if right neighbor R=(i+1)%5 is HUNGRY and
        // both of R's neighbors are not EATING,
        // then setting the R's state to EATING and waking it up               // by signaling R's CV
        test((i + 1) % 5);
        test((i + 4) % 5);

    void test(int i)

        if (state[(i + 1) % 5] != EATING && state[(i + 4) % 5] != EATING && state[i] == HUNGRY)

            // indicating EATING state
            state[i] = EATING;

            // signal() has no effect during Pick(),but is //important to wake up waiting HUNGRY philosophers during Put()


        // Execution of Pick(), Put() and test() are all mutually //exclusive, i.e. only one at a time can be executed
        for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
            state[i] = THINKING;
        // Verifying that this monitor-based solution is deadlock //free and mutually exclusive in that no 2 neighbors can eat //simultaneously
} // end of monitor

We must also declare :

condition self[5];

This enables Philosopher i to postpone her meal when she is hungry but unable to procure the forks she requires.


We may now discuss our solution to the Dining-Philosophers problem. The monitor Dining Philosophers controls the fork distribution.

Before beginning to eat, each philosopher must invoke the operation pick(). The philosopher's process may be halted as a result of this conduct.

The philosopher may eat when the procedure is completed successfully.

Following that, the philosopher calls the put() function.

As a result, philosopher i must invoke the actions pick() and put() in the following order:






We can now easily see that this solution ensures that no two neighbors are eating simultaneously and that no deadlocks will occur. However, we should point out that it is possible for a philosopher to starve to death.

Also see, Open Source Operating System

Frequently Asked Questions

What are monitors in OS?

Monitors are programming language constructs that help in regulating shared data access.
The Monitor is a module or package that contains a common data structure, procedures, and the synchronization of concurrent procedure invocations.

What is the advantage of using the monitor in the operating system?

  • Monitors are less challenging to build than semaphores.
  • Mutual exclusion in monitors is automatic. However, mutual exclusion in semaphores must be manually established.
  • Monitors can compensate for the timing faults that arise when semaphores are used.

What happens if all the philosophers pick the left fork first and then the right fork in the DP problem?

If philosopher P is unable to eat at this time, it is because he either does not have any forks or has his right fork.
Philosopher P can eat once his left fork is accessible if he possesses his right fork.

How many philosophers may eat simultaneously in the dining philosophers problem with five philosophers if they all picked up a fork simultaneously?

If all philosophers are hungry at the same moment, only two philosophers may eat because philosophers used two forks simultaneously.


In this article. we discussed the Dining Philosophers problem and its solution using Monitors. We also touched briefly on some of the important operating system concepts. 

Recommended Reading

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