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Dandy Vica
Dandy Vica

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Using threads on Rust (part 2)

Continuing my previous article on using Rust threads, it's time now to move on and use a more rusty approach by using dedicated crates.
With a little help of my friends (ref. to The Beatles intended !), I get useful advices from the Rust user group thread here:

It seems, for many reasons, that it's the way to go when using threads. I was a little bit reluctant at first to use external crates for such basic thread programming, but as it's becoming now the trend, I've given it a try. But rather than simply computing summation of vector elements, I just replaced the summation with a more generic function:

// function type which will run in each thread
type ChunkTask<'a, T> = fn(&'a [T]) -> T;
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A function of this type will take a vector slice and return a T element. It could be anything: a summation, a summation of squares, a product, you name it. To apply this is a Rust idiomatic manner, I created a specific trait:

// trait to call its fn directly from a Vec<T>
pub trait ParallelTask<T> {
    // distribute work among threads. As a result, we'll got a Vec<T> which is the result of thread tasks
    fn parallel_task<'a>(&'a self, nb_threads: usize, computation: ChunkTask<'a, T>) -> Vec<T>
        T: 'a + Send + Sync;
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The parallel_task function will call the computation function on each task, on a slice which size depends on the number of threads. At the end, a vector of computed T elements is returned. Note that the order in which those elements are pushed in non-deterministic, due to the nature of OS threads.

The trick is to use the crossbeam crate which was created to alleviate some flaws in the thread::scoped API before Rust 1.0. The scope environment allows a more flexible way of using and creating threads:

impl<T> ParallelTask<T> for [T] {
    fn parallel_task<'a>(&'a self, nb_threads: usize, computation: ChunkTask<'a, T>) -> Vec<T>
        T: 'a + Send + Sync,
        // figure out the right size for the number of threads, rounded up
        let chunk_size = (self.len() + nb_threads - 1) / nb_threads;

        // create the channel to be able to receive partial sums from threads
        let (sender, receiver) = mpsc::channel::<T>();

        // create empty vector which will receive all computed valued from children threads
        let mut values: Vec<T> = Vec::new();

        crossbeam::scope(|scope| {
            // create threads: each thread will get the partial sum
            for chunk in self.chunks(chunk_size) {
                // each thread gets its invidual sender
                let thread_sender = sender.clone();

                // spawn thread
                scope.spawn(move |_| {
                    // call dedicated specialized fn
                    let partial_sum: T = computation(chunk);

                    // send it through channel

            // drop our remaining sender, so the receiver won't wait for it

            // sum the results from all threads
            values = receiver.iter().collect();

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Now, we can implement specialized functions. Those below are possible as soon as the Sum and Prod traits are implemented:

// a simple summation of elements
fn sum_fn<'a, T: Sum<&'a T>>(chunk: &'a [T]) -> T {

// summmation of squares of elements
fn sum_square_fn<'a, T>(chunk: &'a [T]) -> T
    T: Sum<&'a T> + Mul<Output = T> + Add<Output = T> + Default + Copy,
    chunk.into_iter().fold(T::default(), |sum, &x| sum + x * x)

// product of elements
fn prod_fn<'a, T: Product<&'a T>>(chunk: &'a [T]) -> T {
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Now it's easy to use the parallel_task method on a vector:

// first 20 integers
let vec: Vec<u64> = (1..=20).collect();

// parallel summation of integers
let mut v = vec.parallel_task(2, sum_fn);
println!("parallel_sum with 2 threads: {:?}", v);
assert_eq!(v.iter().sum::<u64>(), 210);

// parallel product of integer squares aka factorial
v = vec.parallel_task(4, prod_fn);
println!("parallel_product with 4 threads: {:?}", v);
assert_eq!(v.iter().product::<u64>(), 2432902008176640000);

// parallel sum of squares
v = vec.parallel_task(6, sum_square_fn);
println!("parallel_sum of squares with 6 threads: {:?}", v);
assert_eq!(v.iter().sum::<u64>(), 2870);  
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But as the fn is a generic one, we can use any type. In the following, I use the num crate for complex numbers:

// parallel sum of complex squares
let complexes: Vec<Complex<u64>> = (1..=10).map(|i| Complex::new(i,i)).collect();
let mut v = complexes.parallel_task(6, sum_square_fn);
println!("parallel_sum of squares with 6 threads: {:?}", v);
assert_eq!(v.iter().sum::<Complex<u64>>(), Complex::new(0, 770));  
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In the next article, I'll try to use the rayon crate which aims at simplifying parallel iteration, and use other types.

Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash

Top comments (1)

rhymes profile image

Hi Dan, nice articles, you ca link them to each other with a series if you want to: