C++ Concurrency in Action: Practical Multithreading

Author: Anthony Williams
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by anonymous   2018-03-19

Here is one important difference in their usage as explained in Anthony Williams's book:

Consider this example where a condition variable is waited with a timeout:

std::condition_variable cv;
bool done;
std::mutex m;

bool wait_loop()
    auto const timeout= std::chrono::steady_clock::now()+
    std::unique_lock<std::mutex> lk(m);
    return done;

This is the recommended way to wait for condition variables with a time limit, if you’re not passing a predicate to the wait. This way, the overall length of the loop is bounded. As you saw in section 4.1.1, you need to loop when using condition variables if you don’t pass in the predicate, in order to handle spurious wakeups. If you use wait_for() in a loop, you might end up waiting almost the full length of time before a spurious wake, and the next time through the wait time starts again. This may repeat any number of times, making the total wait time unbounded.

IMO, this is one such scenario where wait_for can't replace wait_until so easily, because of its resetting nature.

by anonymous   2017-09-11
@MartinBonner Not right now, no. I have to dig a little. I remember reading this somewhere; probably in [this book](https://www.amazon.com/C-Concurrency-Action-Practical-Multithreading/dp/1933988770). On another note (not defending not providing a reference, but just for the sake of a fruitful discussion), how else can this be done? How can you ensure atomicity (done/not done with no intermediate state) without a global lock?
by litb   2017-08-20


Introductory, no previous programming experience

  • Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) (updated for C++11/C++14) An introduction to programming using C++ by the creator of the language. A good read, that assumes no previous programming experience, but is not only for beginners.

Introductory, with previous programming experience

  • C++ Primer * (Stanley Lippman, Josée Lajoie, and Barbara E. Moo) (updated for C++11) Coming at 1k pages, this is a very thorough introduction into C++ that covers just about everything in the language in a very accessible format and in great detail. The fifth edition (released August 16, 2012) covers C++11. [Review]

  • A Tour of C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) (EBOOK) The “tour” is a quick (about 180 pages and 14 chapters) tutorial overview of all of standard C++ (language and standard library, and using C++11) at a moderately high level for people who already know C++ or at least are experienced programmers. This book is an extended version of the material that constitutes Chapters 2-5 of The C++ Programming Language, 4th edition.

  • Accelerated C++ (Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo) This basically covers the same ground as the C++ Primer, but does so on a fourth of its space. This is largely because it does not attempt to be an introduction to programming, but an introduction to C++ for people who've previously programmed in some other language. It has a steeper learning curve, but, for those who can cope with this, it is a very compact introduction into the language. (Historically, it broke new ground by being the first beginner's book to use a modern approach at teaching the language.) [Review]

  • Thinking in C++ (Bruce Eckel) Two volumes; is a tutorial style free set of intro level books. Downloads: vol 1, vol 2. Unfortunately they’re marred by a number of trivial errors (e.g. maintaining that temporaries are automatically const), with no official errata list. A partial 3rd party errata list is available at (http://www.computersciencelab.com/Eckel.htm), but it’s apparently not maintained.

* Not to be confused with C++ Primer Plus (Stephen Prata), with a significantly less favorable review.

Best practices

  • Effective C++ (Scott Meyers) This was written with the aim of being the best second book C++ programmers should read, and it succeeded. Earlier editions were aimed at programmers coming from C, the third edition changes this and targets programmers coming from languages like Java. It presents ~50 easy-to-remember rules of thumb along with their rationale in a very accessible (and enjoyable) style. For C++11 and C++14 the examples and a few issues are outdated and Effective Modern C++ should be preferred. [Review]

  • Effective Modern C++ (Scott Meyers) This is basically the new version of Effective C++, aimed at C++ programmers making the transition from C++03 to C++11 and C++14.

  • Effective STL (Scott Meyers) This aims to do the same to the part of the standard library coming from the STL what Effective C++ did to the language as a whole: It presents rules of thumb along with their rationale. [Review]


  • More Effective C++ (Scott Meyers) Even more rules of thumb than Effective C++. Not as important as the ones in the first book, but still good to know.

  • Exceptional C++ (Herb Sutter) Presented as a set of puzzles, this has one of the best and thorough discussions of the proper resource management and exception safety in C++ through Resource Acquisition is Initialization (RAII) in addition to in-depth coverage of a variety of other topics including the pimpl idiom, name lookup, good class design, and the C++ memory model. [Review]

  • More Exceptional C++ (Herb Sutter) Covers additional exception safety topics not covered in Exceptional C++, in addition to discussion of effective object oriented programming in C++ and correct use of the STL. [Review]

  • Exceptional C++ Style (Herb Sutter) Discusses generic programming, optimization, and resource management; this book also has an excellent exposition of how to write modular code in C++ by using nonmember functions and the single responsibility principle. [Review]

  • C++ Coding Standards (Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu) “Coding standards” here doesn't mean “how many spaces should I indent my code?” This book contains 101 best practices, idioms, and common pitfalls that can help you to write correct, understandable, and efficient C++ code. [Review]

  • C++ Templates: The Complete Guide (David Vandevoorde and Nicolai M. Josuttis) This is the book about templates as they existed before C++11. It covers everything from the very basics to some of the most advanced template metaprogramming and explains every detail of how templates work (both conceptually and at how they are implemented) and discusses many common pitfalls. Has excellent summaries of the One Definition Rule (ODR) and overload resolution in the appendices. A second edition is scheduled for 2017. [Review]


  • Modern C++ Design (Andrei Alexandrescu) A groundbreaking book on advanced generic programming techniques. Introduces policy-based design, type lists, and fundamental generic programming idioms then explains how many useful design patterns (including small object allocators, functors, factories, visitors, and multimethods) can be implemented efficiently, modularly, and cleanly using generic programming. [Review]

  • C++ Template Metaprogramming (David Abrahams and Aleksey Gurtovoy)

  • C++ Concurrency In Action (Anthony Williams) A book covering C++11 concurrency support including the thread library, the atomics library, the C++ memory model, locks and mutexes, as well as issues of designing and debugging multithreaded applications.

  • Advanced C++ Metaprogramming (Davide Di Gennaro) A pre-C++11 manual of TMP techniques, focused more on practice than theory. There are a ton of snippets in this book, some of which are made obsolete by typetraits, but the techniques, are nonetheless useful to know. If you can put up with the quirky formatting/editing, it is easier to read than Alexandrescu, and arguably, more rewarding. For more experienced developers, there is a good chance that you may pick up something about a dark corner of C++ (a quirk) that usually only comes about through extensive experience.

Reference Style - All Levels

  • The C++ Programming Language (Bjarne Stroustrup) (updated for C++11) The classic introduction to C++ by its creator. Written to parallel the classic K&R, this indeed reads very much alike it and covers just about everything from the core language to the standard library, to programming paradigms to the language's philosophy. [Review]

  • C++ Standard Library Tutorial and Reference (Nicolai Josuttis) (updated for C++11) The introduction and reference for the C++ Standard Library. The second edition (released on April 9, 2012) covers C++11. [Review]

  • The C++ IO Streams and Locales (Angelika Langer and Klaus Kreft) There's very little to say about this book except that, if you want to know anything about streams and locales, then this is the one place to find definitive answers. [Review]

C++11/14 References:

  • The C++ Standard (INCITS/ISO/IEC 14882-2011) This, of course, is the final arbiter of all that is or isn't C++. Be aware, however, that it is intended purely as a reference for experienced users willing to devote considerable time and effort to its understanding. As usual, the first release was quite expensive ($300+ US), but it has now been released in electronic form for $60US.

  • The C++14 standard is available, but seemingly not in an economical form – directly from the ISO it costs 198 Swiss Francs (about $200 US). For most people, the final draft before standardization is more than adequate (and free). Many will prefer an even newer draft, documenting new features that are likely to be included in C++17.

  • Overview of the New C++ (C++11/14) (PDF only) (Scott Meyers) (updated for C++1y/C++14) These are the presentation materials (slides and some lecture notes) of a three-day training course offered by Scott Meyers, who's a highly respected author on C++. Even though the list of items is short, the quality is high.

  • The C++ Core Guidelines (C++11/14/17/…) (edited by Bjarne Stroustrup and Herb Sutter) is an evolving online document consisting of a set of guidelines for using modern C++ well. The guidelines are focused on relatively higher-level issues, such as interfaces, resource management, memory management and concurrency affecting application architecture and library design. The project was announced at CppCon'15 by Bjarne Stroustrup and others and welcomes contributions from the community. Most guidelines are supplemented with a rationale and examples as well as discussions of possible tool support. Many rules are designed specifically to be automatically checkable by static analysis tools.

  • The C++ Super-FAQ (Marshall Cline, Bjarne Stroustrup and others) is an effort by the Standard C++ Foundation to unify the C++ FAQs previously maintained individually by Marshall Cline and Bjarne Stroustrup and also incorporating new contributions. The items mostly address issues at an intermediate level and are often written with a humorous tone. Not all items might be fully up to date with the latest edition of the C++ standard yet.

  • cppreference.com (C++03/11/14/17/…) (initiated by Nate Kohl) is a wiki that summarizes the basic core-language features and has extensive documentation of the C++ standard library. The documentation is very precise but is easier to read than the official standard document and provides better navigation due to its wiki nature. The project documents all versions of the C++ standard and the site allows filtering the display for a specific version. The project was presented by Nate Kohl at CppCon'14.

Classics / Older

Note: Some information contained within these books may not be up-to-date or no longer considered best practice.

  • The Design and Evolution of C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) If you want to know why the language is the way it is, this book is where you find answers. This covers everything before the standardization of C++.

  • Ruminations on C++ - (Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo) [Review]

  • Advanced C++ Programming Styles and Idioms (James Coplien) A predecessor of the pattern movement, it describes many C++-specific “idioms”. It's certainly a very good book and might still be worth a read if you can spare the time, but quite old and not up-to-date with current C++.

  • Large Scale C++ Software Design (John Lakos) Lakos explains techniques to manage very big C++ software projects. Certainly a good read, if it only was up to date. It was written long before C++98, and misses on many features (e.g. namespaces) important for large scale projects. If you need to work in a big C++ software project, you might want to read it, although you need to take more than a grain of salt with it. The first volume of a new edition is expected in 2015.

  • Inside the C++ Object Model (Stanley Lippman) If you want to know how virtual member functions are commonly implemented and how base objects are commonly laid out in memory in a multi-inheritance scenario, and how all this affects performance, this is where you will find thorough discussions of such topics.

  • The Annotated C++ Reference Manual (Bjarne Stroustrup, Margaret A. Ellis) This book is quite outdated in the fact that it explores the 1989 C++ 2.0 version - Templates, exceptions, namespaces and new casts were not yet introduced. Saying that however, this book goes through the entire C++ standard of the time explaining the rationale, the possible implementations and features of the language. This is not a book to learn programming principles and patterns on C++, but to understand every aspect of the C++ language.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

Futures are both present in the upcoming standard (C++0x) and inside boost. Note that while the main name future is the same, you will need to read into the documentation to locate other types and to understand the semantics. I don't know Java futures, so I cannot tell you where they differ, if they do.

The library in boost was written by Anthony Williams, that I believe was also involved in the definition of that part of the standard. He has also written C++ Concurrency in Action, that includes a good description of futures, tasks, promises and related objects. His company also sells a complete and up to implementation of the C++0x threading libraries, if you are interested.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

There's actually a paragraph (3.2.6) in the book explaining that the code is virtually equivalent and you could replace one with the other. The only difference being is that std::unique_lock tends to take more space and is a fraction slower than std::lock_guard.

Bottom line is whenever you don't need the additional flexibility that std::unique_lock provides, go with std::lock_guard.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

However on cache-coherent architectures visibility is ensured automatically and atomicity of 8, 16, 32 and 64 bit variables MOV operation is guaranteed.

Unless you strictly adhere to the requirements of the C++ spec to avoid data races, the compiler is not obligated to make your code function the way it appears to. For example:

int a = 0, b = 0; // shared variables, initialized to zero

a = 1;
b = 1;

Say you do this on your fully cache-coherent architecture. On such hardware it would seem that since a is written before b no thread will ever be able to see b with a value of 1 without a also having that value.

But this is not the case. If you have failed to strictly adhere to the requirements of the C++ memory model for avoiding data races, e.g. you read these variables without the correct synchronization primitives being inserted anywhere, then your program may in fact observe b being written before a. The reason is that you have introduce "undefined behavior" and the C++ implementation has no obligation to do anything that makes sense to you.

What may be going on in practice, is that the compiler may reorder writes even if the hardware works very hard to make it seem as if all writes occur in the order of the machine instructions performing the writes. You need the entire toolchain to cooperate, and cooperation from just the hardware, such as strong cache coherency, is not sufficient.

The book C++ Concurrency in Action is a good source if you care to learn about the details of the C++ memory model and writing portable, concurrent code in C++.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

The speed of iterator incrementing is O(1) for both containers, although you might get somewhat better cache locality from std::unordered_map.

Apart from the slower O(log N) find/insert/erase functionality of std::map, one other difference is that std::map provides bidirectional iterators, whereas the faster (amortized O(1) element access) std::unordered_map only provides forward iterators.

The excellent book C++ Concurrency in Action: Practical Multithreading by Anthony Williams provides a code example of a multithreaded unordered_map with a lock per entry. This book is highly recommended if you are doing serious multithreaded coding.

by gusmd   2017-08-19
I just finished going through this book: https://www.amazon.com/C-Concurrency-Action-Practical-Multit...

Talks in-depth about the thread library and also other C++11 features that made it possible. Highly recommended.