Concurrency is simply put capability of the machine to support two or more transactions working with the same data at the same time. This usually comes up with data is being modified, as during the retrieval of the data this is not the issue. Most of the concurrency problems can be avoided by SQL Locks. There are four types of concurrency problems visible in the normal programming.
1) Lost Update – This problem occurs when there are two transactions involved and both are unaware of each other. The transaction which occurs later overwrites the transactions created by the earlier update.
2) Dirty Reads – This problem occurs when a transactions selects data that isn’t committed by another transaction leading to read the data which may not exists when transactions are over.
Example: Transaction 1 changes the row. Transaction 2 changes the row. Transaction 1 rolls back the changes. Transaction 2 has selected the row which does not exist.
3) Nonrepeatable Reads – This problem occurs when two SELECT statements of the same data results in different values because another transactions has updated the data between the two SELECT statements.
Example: Transaction 1 selects a row, which is later on updated by Transaction 2. When Transaction A later on selects the row it gets different value.
4) Phantom Reads – This problem occurs when UPDATE/DELETE is happening on one set of data and INSERT/UPDATE is happening on the same set of data leading inconsistent data in earlier transaction when both the transactions are over.
Example: Transaction 1 is deleting 10 rows which are marked as deleting rows, during the same time Transaction 2 inserts row marked as deleted. When Transaction 1 is done deleting rows, there will be still rows marked to be deleted.
When two or more transactions are updating the data, concurrency is the biggest issue. I commonly see people toying around with isolation level or locking hints (e.g. NOLOCK) etc, which can very well compromise your data integrity leading to much larger issue in future.
Here is the quick mapping of the isolation level with concurrency problems:
|Isolation||Dirty Reads||Lost Update||Nonrepeatable Reads||Phantom Reads|
I hope this 400 word small article gives some quick understanding on concurrency issues and their relation to isolation level.
Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)