In concurrency control of databases,[1][2] transaction processing (transaction management), and various transactional applications (e.g., transactional memory[3] and software transactional memory), both centralized and distributed, a transaction schedule is serializable if its outcome (e.g., the resulting database state) is equal to the outcome of its transactions executed serially, i.e. without overlapping in time. Transactions are normally executed concurrently (they overlap), since this is the most efficient way. Serializability is the major correctness criterion for concurrent transactions' executions[citation needed]. It is considered the highest level of isolation between transactions, and plays an essential role in concurrency control. As such it is supported in all general purpose database systems. Strong strict two-phase locking (SS2PL) is a popular serializability mechanism utilized in most of the database systems (in various variants) since their early days in the 1970s.

Serializability theory provides the formal framework to reason about and analyze serializability and its techniques. Though it is mathematical in nature, its fundamentals are informally (without mathematics notation) introduced below.