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15.3.3 Condition Objects


15.3.3 Condition Objects

A condition variable is always associated with some kind of lock; this can be passed in or one will be created by default. (Passing one in is useful when several condition variables must share the same lock.)

A condition variable has acquire() and release() methods that call the corresponding methods of the associated lock. It also has a wait() method, and notify() and notifyAll() methods. These three must only be called when the calling thread has acquired the lock.

The wait() method releases the lock, and then blocks until it is awakened by a notify() or notifyAll() call for the same condition variable in another thread. Once awakened, it re-acquires the lock and returns. It is also possible to specify a timeout.

The notify() method wakes up one of the threads waiting for the condition variable, if any are waiting. The notifyAll() method wakes up all threads waiting for the condition variable.

Note: the notify() and notifyAll() methods don't release the lock; this means that the thread or threads awakened will not return from their wait() call immediately, but only when the thread that called notify() or notifyAll() finally relinquishes ownership of the lock.

Tip: the typical programming style using condition variables uses the lock to synchronize access to some shared state; threads that are interested in a particular change of state call wait() repeatedly until they see the desired state, while threads that modify the state call notify() or notifyAll() when they change the state in such a way that it could possibly be a desired state for one of the waiters. For example, the following code is a generic producer-consumer situation with unlimited buffer capacity:

# Consume one item
cv.acquire()
while not an_item_is_available():
    cv.wait()
get_an_available_item()
cv.release()

# Produce one item
cv.acquire()
make_an_item_available()
cv.notify()
cv.release()

To choose between notify() and notifyAll(), consider whether one state change can be interesting for only one or several waiting threads. E.g. in a typical producer-consumer situation, adding one item to the buffer only needs to wake up one consumer thread.

class Condition( [lock])
If the lock argument is given and not None, it must be a Lock or RLock object, and it is used as the underlying lock. Otherwise, a new RLock object is created and used as the underlying lock.

acquire( *args)
Acquire the underlying lock. This method calls the corresponding method on the underlying lock; the return value is whatever that method returns.

release( )
Release the underlying lock. This method calls the corresponding method on the underlying lock; there is no return value.

wait( [timeout])
Wait until notified or until a timeout occurs. This must only be called when the calling thread has acquired the lock.

This method releases the underlying lock, and then blocks until it is awakened by a notify() or notifyAll() call for the same condition variable in another thread, or until the optional timeout occurs. Once awakened or timed out, it re-acquires the lock and returns.

When the timeout argument is present and not None, it should be a floating point number specifying a timeout for the operation in seconds (or fractions thereof).

When the underlying lock is an RLock, it is not released using its release() method, since this may not actually unlock the lock when it was acquired multiple times recursively. Instead, an internal interface of the RLock class is used, which really unlocks it even when it has been recursively acquired several times. Another internal interface is then used to restore the recursion level when the lock is reacquired.

notify( )
Wake up a thread waiting on this condition, if any. This must only be called when the calling thread has acquired the lock.

This method wakes up one of the threads waiting for the condition variable, if any are waiting; it is a no-op if no threads are waiting.

The current implementation wakes up exactly one thread, if any are waiting. However, it's not safe to rely on this behavior. A future, optimized implementation may occasionally wake up more than one thread.

Note: the awakened thread does not actually return from its wait() call until it can reacquire the lock. Since notify() does not release the lock, its caller should.

notifyAll( )
Wake up all threads waiting on this condition. This method acts like notify(), but wakes up all waiting threads instead of one.

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