C# – Difference between lock(locker) and lock(variable_which_I_am_using)

.netc++multithreading

I'm using C# & .NEt 3.5. What is the difference between the OptionA and OptionB ?

class MyClass
{
    private object m_Locker = new object();
    private Dicionary<string, object> m_Hash = new Dictionary<string, object>();

    public void OptionA()
    {
        lock(m_Locker){ 
          // Do something with the dictionary
        }
    }

    public void OptionB()
    {
        lock(m_Hash){ 
          // Do something with the dictionary
        }
    }       
}

I'm starting to dabble in threading (primarly for creating a cache for a multi-threaded app, NOT using the HttpCache class, since it's not attached to a web site), and I see the OptionA syntax in a lot of the examples I see online, but I don't understand what, if any, reason that is done over OptionB.

Best Solution

Option B uses the object to be protected to create a critical section. In some cases, this more clearly communicates the intent. If used consistently, it guarantees only one critical section for the protected object will be active at a time:

lock (m_Hash)
{
    // Across all threads, I can be in one and only one of these two blocks
    // Do something with the dictionary
}
lock (m_Hash)
{
    // Across all threads, I can be in one and only one of these two blocks
    // Do something with the dictionary
}

Option A is less restrictive. It uses a secondary object to create a critical section for the object to be protected. If multiple secondary objects are used, it's possible to have more than one critical section for the protected object active at a time.

private object m_LockerA = new object();
private object m_LockerB = new object();

lock (m_LockerA)
{
    // It's possible this block is active in one thread
    // while the block below is active in another
    // Do something with the dictionary
}
lock (m_LockerB)
{
    // It's possible this block is active in one thread
    // while the block above is active in another
    // Do something with the dictionary
}

Option A is equivalent to Option B if you use only one secondary object. As far as reading code, Option B's intent is clearer. If you're protecting more than one object, Option B isn't really an option.