Conditions for Deadlock in Operating System

Deadlock is a situation which involves the interaction of more than one resources and processes with each other.

We can visualise the occurrence of deadlock as a situation where there are two people on a staircase. One is ascending the staircase while the other is descending. The staircase is so narrow that it can only fit one person at a time. As a result, one has to retreat while the others moves on and uses the staircase. Once that person is finished, the other one can use that staircase. But here, none of the people is willing to retreat and waits for the each other to retreat. None of them is able to use the staircase. The people here is the process and the staircase is the resource.

When a process requests for the resource that is been held another process which needs another resource to continue, but is been held by the first process, then it is called a deadlock.

There are 4 conditions necessary for the occurrence of a deadlock. They can be understood with the help of the above illustrated example of staircase :

  1. Mutual Exclusion:
    When two people meet in the landings, they can’t just walk through because there is space only for one person. This condition to allow only one person (or process) to use the step between them (or the resource) is the first condition necessary for the occurrence of the deadlock.

  2. Hold and Wait:
    When the 2 people refuses to retreat and hold their grounds, it is called holding. This is the next necessary condition for the the deadlock.

  3. No Preemption:
    For resolving the deadlock one can simply cancel one of the processes for other to continue. But Operating System doesn’t do so. It allocates the resources to the processors for as much time needed until the task is completed. Hence, there is no temporary reallocation of the resources. It is third condition for deadlock.

  4. Circular Wait:
    When the two people refuses to retreat and wait for each other to retreat, so that they can complete their task, it is called circular wait. It is the last condition for the deadlock to occur.

All the 4 conditions are necessary for the deadlock to occur. If any one is prevented or resolved, the deadlock is resolved.

Attention reader! Don’t stop learning now. Get hold of all the important DSA concepts with the DSA Self Paced Course at a student-friendly price and become industry ready.

My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up

Check out this Author's contributed articles.

If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article using or mail your article to See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks.

Please Improve this article if you find anything incorrect by clicking on the "Improve Article" button below.