.NET Programming

How does the generational garbage collector in the NET CLR manage object lifetime What is non-deterministic finalization?

Answer

Wiki User
12/18/2008

The hugely simplistic version is that every time it garbage-collects, it starts by assuming everything to be garbage, then goes through and builds a list of everything reachable. Those become not-garbage, everything else doesn't, and gets thrown away. What makes it generational is that every time an object goes through this process and survives, it is noted as being a member of an older generation (up to 2, right now). When the garbage-collector is trying to free memory, it starts with the lowest generation (0) and only works up to higher ones if it can't free up enough space, on the grounds that shorter-lived objects are more likely to have been freed than longer-lived ones. Non-deterministic finalization implies that the destructor (if any) of an object will not necessarily be run (nor its memory cleaned up, but that's a relatively minor issue) immediately upon its going out of scope. Instead, it will wait until first the garbage collector gets around to finding it, and then the finalisation queue empties down to it; and if the process ends before this happens, it may not be finalised at all. (Although the operating system will usually clean up any process-external resources left open - note the usually there, especially as the exceptions tend to hurt a lot.)