Priority Scheduling

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What Does Priority Scheduling Mean?

Priority scheduling is a method of scheduling processes based on priority. In this method, the scheduler chooses the tasks to work as per the priority, which is different from other types of scheduling, for example, a simple round robin.


Priority scheduling involves priority assignment to every process, and processes with higher priorities are carried out first, whereas tasks with equal priorities are carried out on a first-come-first-served (FCFS) or round robin basis. An example of a general-priority scheduling algorithm is the shortest-job-first (SJF) algorithm.

Techopedia Explains Priority Scheduling

Priorities can be either dynamic or static. Static priorities are allocated during creation, whereas dynamic priorities are assigned depending on the behavior of the processes while in the system. To illustrate, the scheduler could favor input/output (I/O) intensive tasks, which lets expensive requests be issued as soon as possible.

Priorities may be defined internally or externally. Internally defined priorities make use of some measurable quantity to calculate the priority of a given process. In contrast, external priorities are defined using criteria beyond the operating system (OS), which can include the significance of the process, the type as well as the sum of resources being utilized for computer use, user preference, commerce, and other factors like politics, etc. Priority scheduling can be either of the following:

  • Preemptive — This type of scheduling may preempt the central processing unit (CPU) in the case the priority of the freshly arrived process is greater than those of the existing processes.
  • Non-preemptive — This type of scheduling algorithm simply places the new process at the top of the ready queue.

Indefinite blocking, otherwise called starvation, is one of the major issues concerning priority scheduling algorithms. It is a state where a process is ready to be executed but faces a long wait in getting assigned to the CPU.

It’s often possible that a priority scheduling algorithm can make a low-priority process wait indefinitely. For example, in an intensely loaded system, if there are a number of higher-priority processes, the low-priority processes may never get the CPU for execution.

A remedy to starvation is aging, which is a technique used to gradually increase the priority of those processes that wait for long periods in the system.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.