Double check pattern

I just answered a question at SO about lazy loading which involved the double check pattern. It’s a really useful pattern for lazy loading since it hurt performance a lot less than always locking.

I thought that I should share explain why by using some comments:

public sealed class Lazy<T> where T : class
    private readonly object _syncRoot = new object();
    private readonly Func<T> _factory;
    private T _value;
    public Lazy(Func<T> factory)
        if (factory == null) throw new ArgumentNullException('factory');
        _factory = factory;
    public T Value
            // here is the first check. It only returns true
            // if the instance have not been created, right?
            if (_value == null)
                // so when we enter here, we are within a very small time frame:
                // That is from the above check until the new instance is
                // assigned to the variable.
                // Which is a <strong>very</strong> small time frame
                // (unless you rely on external resources).
                // So let's lock to make sure that no other thread
                // have already started to create the object.
                lock (_syncRoot)
                    // We enter here as soon as any other thread (if there were one)
                    // have stopped working, which means that the value could 
                    // have been assigned.
                    // So let's check if another thread have already done the work for us.
                    if (_value == null)
                        //no, so let's create the object.
                        _value = _factory();
            return _value;
    public override string ToString()
        return _value == null ? 'Not created' : _value.ToString();

The double check pattern allows us to have lock free code (other than when the instance is created) which is a huge performance gain compared to using a single lock.

Feel free to use the code in .NET versions earlier than 4.

Reference: Double check pattern from our NCG partner Jonas Gauffin at the jgauffin’s coding den blog.

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