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IBM developerWorks: POSIX threads explained, Part 3 - Improve efficiency with condition variables

Sep 17, 2000, 12:36 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Daniel Robbins)

"In this article, the last of a three-part series on POSIX threads, Daniel takes a good look at how to use condition variables. Condition variables are POSIX thread structures that allow you to "wake up" threads when certain conditions are met. You can think of them as a thread-safe form of signalling. Daniel wraps up the article by using all that you've learned so far to implement a multi-threaded work crew application."

"I ended my previous article by describing a particular dilemma: how does a thread deal with a situation where it is waiting for a specific condition to become true? It could repeatedly lock and unlock a mutex, each time checking a shared data structure for a certain value. But this is a waste of time and resources, and this form of busy polling is extremely inefficient. The best way to do this is to use the pthread_cond_wait() call to wait on a particular condition to become true."

"It's important to understand what pthread_cond_wait() does -- it's the heart of the POSIX threads signalling system, and also the hardest part to understand."

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