STL vector and thread-safety

Let's say I have a vector of N elements, but up to n elements of this vector have meaningful data. One updater thread updates the nth or n+1st element (then sets n = n+1), also checks if n is too close to N and calls vector::resize(N+M) if necessary. After updating, the thread calls multiple child threads to read up to nth data and do some calculations.

It is guaranteed that child threads never change or delete data, (in fact no data is deleted what so ever) and updater calls children just after it finishes updating.

So far no problem has occured, but I want to ask whether a problem may occur during reallocating of vector to a larger memory block, if there are some child working threads left from the previous update. Or is it safe to use vector, as it is not thread-safe, in such a multithreaded case?

EDIT: Since only insertion takes place when the updater calls vector::resize(N+M,0), are there any possible solutions to my problem? Due to the great performance of STL vector I am not willing to replace it with a lockable vector or in this case are there any performant,known and lock-free vectors?

Answers


I want to ask whether a problem may occur during reallocating of vector to a larger memory block, if there are some child working threads left from the previous update.

Yes, this would be very bad.

If you are using a container from multiple threads and at least one thread may perform some action that may modify the state of the container, access to the container must be synchronized.

In the case of std::vector, anything that changes its size (notably, insertions and erasures) change its state, even if a reallocation is not required (any insertion or erasure requires std::vector's internal size bookkeeping data to be updated).


One solution to your problem would be to have the producer dynamically allocate the std::vector and use a std::shared_ptr<std::vector<T> > to own it and give this std::shared_ptr to each of the consumers.

When the producer needs to add more data, it can dynamically allocate a new std::vector with a new, larger size and copies of the elements from the old std::vector. Then, when you spin off new consumers or update consumers with the new data, you simply need to give them a std::shared_ptr to the new std::vector.


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