basic python threading question

Tom nospam at
Sat Sep 30 00:32:32 CEST 2000

"Donn Cave" <donn at> wrote in message
news:8r2vhj$bsl2$1 at
> Quoth "Tom" <nospam at>:
> | "Aahz Maruch" <aahz at> wrote in message
> | news:8r2hdl$6rr$1 at
> |> In article <q_IA5.42927$dZ2.15588642 at>,
> |> Tom <nospam at> wrote:
> |>|
> |>| This would be a problem for threading, unless all atomic objects are
> |>| thead-safe.  Now, all atomic objects appear to me to be immutable.
> |>| immutable objects inherently thread-safe in Python (even if the ref
> |>| change)?
> |>
> |> Yes, immutable objects are thread-safe.  Remember that assignment in
> |> Python is a binding operation, not a modification operation.
> | But, even an immutable object has its reference count modified by a
> | operation.  And this sounds like a problem to me, since (quoting from
> | section 8.1 of  API Ref):
> |
> | "when two threads simultaneously increment the reference count of the
> | object, the reference count could end up being incremented only once
> | of twice. "
> In the present implementation, though, if that could actually happen it
> would be through a bug at the C level, not in Python.  The interpreter
> has a global lock that prevents operations like assign/bind from happening
> in two concurrent threads.  Correctly implemented modules can allow
> concurrent execution, but only where all but one thread are in external
> functions.
> This is the kind of thing you need to know.
> As another poster has already mentioned, thread safety isn't really about
> different kinds of objects.  Mutable vs. immutable isn't that useful of
> a distinction.  How about a file descriptor open on a UNIX pipe?  it's
> just an integer, and of course you can use it for arithmetic all you want,
> but don't let two threads write to it at once.
> | I'm finding threading on Python to be more complicated than threading in
> | It also seems that threading in any interpreted environment must have a
> | fairly heavy overhead, and so is best avoided.
> Threading is best avoided, period.  I mean, if you can do approximately
> the same thing without threads, then you would have to be insane to use
> threads.  But I'm posting this from a multithreaded program, written in
> python, at the moment I count 15 threads.  There's no overhead on this
> 132Mhz computer, and Python doesn't make it more difficult nor does it
> make it easier.  The use of threads adds a dimension to the complexity
> of the program, that's all.  The overhead is in your head.

Yes, I agree, but I felt it was necessary.  One thread is for the GUI, the
other is for code that gets traced, so it is going into a trace handler.
This is one of those cases where it could be done with one thread, but this
would create a very ackward design.


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