Class

Threads are the Ruby implementation for a concurrent programming model.

Programs that require multiple threads of execution are a perfect candidate for Ruby's Thread class.

For example, we can create a new thread separate from the main thread's execution using ::new.

thr = Thread.new { puts "What's the big deal" }

Then we are able to pause the execution of the main thread and allow our new thread to finish, using join:

thr.join #=> "What's the big deal"

If we don't call thr.join before the main thread terminates, then all other threads including thr will be killed.

Alternatively, you can use an array for handling multiple threads at once, like in the following example:

threads = []
threads << Thread.new { puts "What's the big deal" }
threads << Thread.new { 3.times { puts "Threads are fun!" } }

After creating a few threads we wait for them all to finish consecutively.

threads.each { |thr| thr.join }

To retrieve the last value of a thread, use value

thr = Thread.new { sleep 1; "Useful value" }
thr.value #=> "Useful value"

In order to create new threads, Ruby provides ::new, ::start, and ::fork. A block must be provided with each of these methods, otherwise a ThreadError will be raised.

When subclassing the Thread class, the initialize method of your subclass will be ignored by ::start and ::fork. Otherwise, be sure to call super in your initialize method.

For terminating threads, Ruby provides a variety of ways to do this.

The class method ::kill, is meant to exit a given thread:

thr = Thread.new { sleep }
Thread.kill(thr) # sends exit() to thr

Alternatively, you can use the instance method exit, or any of its aliases kill or terminate.

thr.exit

Ruby provides a few instance methods for querying the state of a given thread. To get a string with the current thread's state use status

thr = Thread.new { sleep }
thr.status # => "sleep"
thr.exit
thr.status # => false

You can also use alive? to tell if the thread is running or sleeping, and stop? if the thread is dead or sleeping.

Since threads are created with blocks, the same rules apply to other Ruby blocks for variable scope. Any local variables created within this block are accessible to only this thread.

Fiber-local vs. Thread-local

Each fiber has its own bucket for Thread#[] storage. When you set a new fiber-local it is only accessible within this Fiber. To illustrate:

Thread.new {
  Thread.current[:foo] = "bar"
  Fiber.new {
    p Thread.current[:foo] # => nil
  }.resume
}.join

This example uses [] for getting and []= for setting fiber-locals, you can also use keys to list the fiber-locals for a given thread and key? to check if a fiber-local exists.

When it comes to thread-locals, they are accessible within the entire scope of the thread. Given the following example:

Thread.new{
  Thread.current.thread_variable_set(:foo, 1)
  p Thread.current.thread_variable_get(:foo) # => 1
  Fiber.new{
    Thread.current.thread_variable_set(:foo, 2)
    p Thread.current.thread_variable_get(:foo) # => 2
  }.resume
  p Thread.current.thread_variable_get(:foo)   # => 2
}.join

You can see that the thread-local :foo carried over into the fiber and was changed to 2 by the end of the thread.

This example makes use of thread_variable_set to create new thread-locals, and thread_variable_get to reference them.

There is also thread_variables to list all thread-locals, and thread_variable? to check if a given thread-local exists.

When an unhandled exception is raised inside a thread, it will terminate. By default, this exception will not propagate to other threads. The exception is stored and when another thread calls value or join, the exception will be re-raised in that thread.

t = Thread.new{ raise 'something went wrong' }
t.value #=> RuntimeError: something went wrong

An exception can be raised from outside the thread using the Thread#raise instance method, which takes the same parameters as Kernel#raise.

Setting Thread.abort_on_exception = true, Thread#abort_on_exception = true, or $DEBUG = true will cause a subsequent unhandled exception raised in a thread to be automatically re-raised in the main thread.

With the addition of the class method ::handle_interrupt, you can now handle exceptions asynchronously with threads.

Scheduling

Ruby provides a few ways to support scheduling threads in your program.

The first way is by using the class method ::stop, to put the current running thread to sleep and schedule the execution of another thread.

Once a thread is asleep, you can use the instance method wakeup to mark your thread as eligible for scheduling.

You can also try ::pass, which attempts to pass execution to another thread but is dependent on the OS whether a running thread will switch or not. The same goes for priority, which lets you hint to the thread scheduler which threads you want to take precedence when passing execution. This method is also dependent on the OS and may be ignored on some platforms.


Returns the thread debug level. Available only if compiled with THREAD_DEBUG=-1.

Sets the thread debug level. Available only if compiled with THREAD_DEBUG=-1.

Attribute Reference—Returns the value of a fiber-local variable (current thread's root fiber if not explicitly inside a Fiber), using either a symbol or a string name. If the specified variable does not exist, returns nil.

[
  Thread.new { Thread.current["name"] = "A" },
  Thread.new { Thread.current[:name]  = "B" },
  Thread.new { Thread.current["name"] = "C" }
].each do |th|
  th.join
  puts "#{th.inspect}: #{th[:name]}"
end

This will produce:

#<Thread:0x00000002a54220 dead>: A
#<Thread:0x00000002a541a8 dead>: B
#<Thread:0x00000002a54130 dead>: C

Thread#[] and Thread#[]= are not thread-local but fiber-local. This confusion did not exist in Ruby 1.8 because fibers are only available since Ruby 1.9. Ruby 1.9 chooses that the methods behaves fiber-local to save following idiom for dynamic scope.

def meth(newvalue)
  begin
    oldvalue = Thread.current[:name]
    Thread.current[:name] = newvalue
    yield
  ensure
    Thread.current[:name] = oldvalue
  end
end

The idiom may not work as dynamic scope if the methods are thread-local and a given block switches fiber.

f = Fiber.new {
  meth(1) {
    Fiber.yield
  }
}
meth(2) {
  f.resume
}
f.resume
p Thread.current[:name]
#=> nil if fiber-local
#=> 2 if thread-local (The value 2 is leaked to outside of meth method.)

For thread-local variables, please see thread_variable_get and thread_variable_set.

Attribute Assignment—Sets or creates the value of a fiber-local variable, using either a symbol or a string.

See also Thread#[].

For thread-local variables, please see thread_variable_set and thread_variable_get.

Returns the status of the global “abort on exception'' condition.

The default is false.

When set to true, if any thread is aborted by an exception, the raised exception will be re-raised in the main thread.

Can also be specified by the global $DEBUG flag or command line option -d.

See also ::abort_on_exception=.

There is also an instance level method to set this for a specific thread, see abort_on_exception.

When set to true, if any thread is aborted by an exception, the raised exception will be re-raised in the main thread. Returns the new state.

Thread.abort_on_exception = true
t1 = Thread.new do
  puts  "In new thread"
  raise "Exception from thread"
end
sleep(1)
puts "not reached"

This will produce:

In new thread
prog.rb:4: Exception from thread (RuntimeError)
 from prog.rb:2:in `initialize'
 from prog.rb:2:in `new'
 from prog.rb:2

See also ::abort_on_exception.

There is also an instance level method to set this for a specific thread, see abort_on_exception=.

Returns true if thr is running or sleeping.

thr = Thread.new { }
thr.join                #=> #<Thread:0x401b3fb0 dead>
Thread.current.alive?   #=> true
thr.alive?              #=> false

See also stop? and status.

Returns the current backtrace of the target thread.

Returns the execution stack for the target thread—an array containing backtrace location objects.

See Thread::Backtrace::Location for more information.

This method behaves similarly to Kernel#caller_locations except it applies to a specific thread.

Returns the currently executing thread.

Thread.current   #=> #<Thread:0x401bdf4c run>

Wraps the block in a single, VM-global Mutex.synchronize, returning the value of the block. A thread executing inside the exclusive section will only block other threads which also use the Thread.exclusive mechanism.

Terminates the currently running thread and schedules another thread to be run.

If this thread is already marked to be killed, ::exit returns the Thread.

If this is the main thread, or the last thread, exit the process.

Returns a fiber-local for the given key. If the key can't be found, there are several options: With no other arguments, it will raise a KeyError exception; if default is given, then that will be returned; if the optional code block is specified, then that will be run and its result returned. See Thread#[] and Hash#fetch.

Basically the same as ::new. However, if class Thread is subclassed, then calling start in that subclass will not invoke the subclass's initialize method.

Returns the ThreadGroup which contains the given thread, or returns nil if thr is not a member of any group.

Thread.main.group   #=> #<ThreadGroup:0x4029d914>

Changes asynchronous interrupt timing.

interrupt means asynchronous event and corresponding procedure by Thread#raise, Thread#kill, signal trap (not supported yet) and main thread termination (if main thread terminates, then all other thread will be killed).

The given hash has pairs like ExceptionClass => :TimingSymbol. Where the ExceptionClass is the interrupt handled by the given block. The TimingSymbol can be one of the following symbols:

:immediate

Invoke interrupts immediately.

:on_blocking

Invoke interrupts while BlockingOperation.

:never

Never invoke all interrupts.

BlockingOperation means that the operation will block the calling thread, such as read and write. On CRuby implementation, BlockingOperation is any operation executed without GVL.

Masked asynchronous interrupts are delayed until they are enabled. This method is similar to sigprocmask(3).

NOTE

Asynchronous interrupts are difficult to use.

If you need to communicate between threads, please consider to use another way such as Queue.

Or use them with deep understanding about this method.

Usage

In this example, we can guard from Thread#raise exceptions.

Using the :never TimingSymbol the RuntimeError exception will always be ignored in the first block of the main thread. In the second ::handle_interrupt block we can purposefully handle RuntimeError exceptions.

th = Thread.new do
  Thread.handle_interrupt(RuntimeError => :never) {
    begin
      # You can write resource allocation code safely.
      Thread.handle_interrupt(RuntimeError => :immediate) {
        # ...
      }
    ensure
      # You can write resource deallocation code safely.
    end
  }
end
Thread.pass
# ...
th.raise "stop"

While we are ignoring the RuntimeError exception, it's safe to write our resource allocation code. Then, the ensure block is where we can safely deallocate your resources.

Guarding from

In the next example, we will guard from the Timeout::Error exception. This will help prevent from leaking resources when Timeout::Error exceptions occur during normal ensure clause. For this example we use the help of the standard library Timeout, from lib/timeout.rb

require 'timeout'
Thread.handle_interrupt(Timeout::Error => :never) {
  timeout(10){
    # Timeout::Error doesn't occur here
    Thread.handle_interrupt(Timeout::Error => :on_blocking) {
      # possible to be killed by Timeout::Error
      # while blocking operation
    }
    # Timeout::Error doesn't occur here
  }
}

In the first part of the timeout block, we can rely on Timeout::Error being ignored. Then in the Timeout::Error => :on_blocking block, any operation that will block the calling thread is susceptible to a Timeout::Error exception being raised.

Stack control settings

It's possible to stack multiple levels of ::handle_interrupt blocks in order to control more than one ExceptionClass and TimingSymbol at a time.

Thread.handle_interrupt(FooError => :never) {
  Thread.handle_interrupt(BarError => :never) {
     # FooError and BarError are prohibited.
  }
}

Inheritance with ExceptionClass

All exceptions inherited from the ExceptionClass parameter will be considered.

Thread.handle_interrupt(Exception => :never) {
  # all exceptions inherited from Exception are prohibited.
}
No documentation available

The calling thread will suspend execution and run this thr.

Does not return until thr exits or until the given limit seconds have passed.

If the time limit expires, nil will be returned, otherwise thr is returned.

Any threads not joined will be killed when the main program exits.

If thr had previously raised an exception and the ::abort_on_exception or $DEBUG flags are not set, (so the exception has not yet been processed), it will be processed at this time.

a = Thread.new { print "a"; sleep(10); print "b"; print "c" }
x = Thread.new { print "x"; Thread.pass; print "y"; print "z" }
x.join # Let thread x finish, thread a will be killed on exit.
#=> "axyz"

The following example illustrates the limit parameter.

y = Thread.new { 4.times { sleep 0.1; puts 'tick... ' }}
puts "Waiting" until y.join(0.15)

This will produce:

tick...
Waiting
tick...
Waiting
tick...
tick...

Returns true if the given string (or symbol) exists as a fiber-local variable.

me = Thread.current
me[:oliver] = "a"
me.key?(:oliver)    #=> true
me.key?(:stanley)   #=> false

Returns an array of the names of the fiber-local variables (as Symbols).

thr = Thread.new do
  Thread.current[:cat] = 'meow'
  Thread.current["dog"] = 'woof'
end
thr.join   #=> #<Thread:0x401b3f10 dead>
thr.keys   #=> [:dog, :cat]

Causes the given thread to exit, see also Thread::exit.

count = 0
a = Thread.new { loop { count += 1 } }
sleep(0.1)       #=> 0
Thread.kill(a)   #=> #<Thread:0x401b3d30 dead>
count            #=> 93947
a.alive?         #=> false

Returns an array of Thread objects for all threads that are either runnable or stopped.

Thread.new { sleep(200) }
Thread.new { 1000000.times {|i| i*i } }
Thread.new { Thread.stop }
Thread.list.each {|t| p t}

This will produce:

#<Thread:0x401b3e84 sleep>
#<Thread:0x401b3f38 run>
#<Thread:0x401b3fb0 sleep>
#<Thread:0x401bdf4c run>

Returns the main thread.

show the name of the thread.

set given name to the ruby thread. On some platform, it may set the name to pthread and/or kernel.

Creates a new thread executing the given block.

Any args given to ::new will be passed to the block:

arr = []
a, b, c = 1, 2, 3
Thread.new(a,b,c) { |d,e,f| arr << d << e << f }.join
arr #=> [1, 2, 3]

A ThreadError exception is raised if ::new is called without a block.

If you're going to subclass Thread, be sure to call super in your initialize method, otherwise a ThreadError will be raised.

Give the thread scheduler a hint to pass execution to another thread. A running thread may or may not switch, it depends on OS and processor.

Returns whether or not the asynchronous queue is empty.

Since Thread::handle_interrupt can be used to defer asynchronous events, this method can be used to determine if there are any deferred events.

If you find this method returns true, then you may finish :never blocks.

For example, the following method processes deferred asynchronous events immediately.

def Thread.kick_interrupt_immediately
  Thread.handle_interrupt(Object => :immediate) {
    Thread.pass
  }
end

If error is given, then check only for error type deferred events.

Usage

th = Thread.new{
  Thread.handle_interrupt(RuntimeError => :on_blocking){
    while true
      ...
      # reach safe point to invoke interrupt
      if Thread.pending_interrupt?
        Thread.handle_interrupt(Object => :immediate){}
      end
      ...
    end
  }
}
...
th.raise # stop thread

This example can also be written as the following, which you should use to avoid asynchronous interrupts.

flag = true
th = Thread.new{
  Thread.handle_interrupt(RuntimeError => :on_blocking){
    while true
      ...
      # reach safe point to invoke interrupt
      break if flag == false
      ...
    end
  }
}
...
flag = false # stop thread

Returns the priority of thr. Default is inherited from the current thread which creating the new thread, or zero for the initial main thread; higher-priority thread will run more frequently than lower-priority threads (but lower-priority threads can also run).

This is just hint for Ruby thread scheduler. It may be ignored on some platform.

Thread.current.priority   #=> 0

Sets the priority of thr to integer. Higher-priority threads will run more frequently than lower-priority threads (but lower-priority threads can also run).

This is just hint for Ruby thread scheduler. It may be ignored on some platform.

count1 = count2 = 0
a = Thread.new do
      loop { count1 += 1 }
    end
a.priority = -1

b = Thread.new do
      loop { count2 += 1 }
    end
b.priority = -2
sleep 1   #=> 1
count1    #=> 622504
count2    #=> 5832

Raises an exception from the given thread. The caller does not have to be thr. See Kernel#raise for more information.

Thread.abort_on_exception = true
a = Thread.new { sleep(200) }
a.raise("Gotcha")

This will produce:

prog.rb:3: Gotcha (RuntimeError)
 from prog.rb:2:in `initialize'
 from prog.rb:2:in `new'
 from prog.rb:2

Returns the status of the global “report on exception'' condition.

The default is true since Ruby 2.5.

All threads created when this flag is true will report a message on $stderr if an exception kills the thread.

Thread.new { 1.times { raise } }

will produce this output on $stderr:

#<Thread:...> terminated with exception (report_on_exception is true):
Traceback (most recent call last):
        2: from -e:1:in `block in <main>'
        1: from -e:1:in `times'

This is done to catch errors in threads early. In some cases, you might not want this output. There are multiple ways to avoid the extra output:

  • If the exception is not intended, the best is to fix the cause of the exception so it does not happen anymore.

  • If the exception is intended, it might be better to rescue it closer to where it is raised rather then let it kill the Thread.

  • If it is guaranteed the Thread will be joined with Thread#join or Thread#value, then it is safe to disable this report with Thread.current.report_on_exception = false when starting the Thread. However, this might handle the exception much later, or not at all if the Thread is never joined due to the parent thread being blocked, etc.

See also ::report_on_exception=.

There is also an instance level method to set this for a specific thread, see report_on_exception=.

Returns the new state. When set to true, all threads created afterwards will inherit the condition and report a message on $stderr if an exception kills a thread:

Thread.report_on_exception = true
t1 = Thread.new do
  puts  "In new thread"
  raise "Exception from thread"
end
sleep(1)
puts "In the main thread"

This will produce:

In new thread
#<Thread:...prog.rb:2> terminated with exception (report_on_exception is true):
Traceback (most recent call last):
prog.rb:4:in `block in <main>': Exception from thread (RuntimeError)
In the main thread

See also ::report_on_exception.

There is also an instance level method to set this for a specific thread, see report_on_exception=.

Wakes up thr, making it eligible for scheduling.

a = Thread.new { puts "a"; Thread.stop; puts "c" }
sleep 0.1 while a.status!='sleep'
puts "Got here"
a.run
a.join

This will produce:

a
Got here
c

See also the instance method wakeup.

Returns the safe level.

This method is obsolete because $SAFE is a process global state. Simply check $SAFE.

Establishes proc on thr as the handler for tracing, or disables tracing if the parameter is nil.

See Kernel#set_trace_func.

Basically the same as ::new. However, if class Thread is subclassed, then calling start in that subclass will not invoke the subclass's initialize method.

Returns the status of thr.

"sleep"

Returned if this thread is sleeping or waiting on I/O

"run"

When this thread is executing

"aborting"

If this thread is aborting

false

When this thread is terminated normally

nil

If terminated with an exception.

a = Thread.new { raise("die now") }
b = Thread.new { Thread.stop }
c = Thread.new { Thread.exit }
d = Thread.new { sleep }
d.kill                  #=> #<Thread:0x401b3678 aborting>
a.status                #=> nil
b.status                #=> "sleep"
c.status                #=> false
d.status                #=> "aborting"
Thread.current.status   #=> "run"

See also the instance methods alive? and stop?

Stops execution of the current thread, putting it into a “sleep'' state, and schedules execution of another thread.

a = Thread.new { print "a"; Thread.stop; print "c" }
sleep 0.1 while a.status!='sleep'
print "b"
a.run
a.join
#=> "abc"

Returns true if thr is dead or sleeping.

a = Thread.new { Thread.stop }
b = Thread.current
a.stop?   #=> true
b.stop?   #=> false

See also alive? and status.

Terminates thr and schedules another thread to be run, returning the terminated Thread. If this is the main thread, or the last thread, exits the process.

Returns true if the given string (or symbol) exists as a thread-local variable.

me = Thread.current
me.thread_variable_set(:oliver, "a")
me.thread_variable?(:oliver)    #=> true
me.thread_variable?(:stanley)   #=> false

Note that these are not fiber local variables. Please see Thread#[] and Thread#thread_variable_get for more details.

Returns the value of a thread local variable that has been set. Note that these are different than fiber local values. For fiber local values, please see Thread#[] and Thread#[]=.

Thread local values are carried along with threads, and do not respect fibers. For example:

Thread.new {
  Thread.current.thread_variable_set("foo", "bar") # set a thread local
  Thread.current["foo"] = "bar"                    # set a fiber local

  Fiber.new {
    Fiber.yield [
      Thread.current.thread_variable_get("foo"), # get the thread local
      Thread.current["foo"],                     # get the fiber local
    ]
  }.resume
}.join.value # => ['bar', nil]

The value “bar” is returned for the thread local, where nil is returned for the fiber local. The fiber is executed in the same thread, so the thread local values are available.

Sets a thread local with key to value. Note that these are local to threads, and not to fibers. Please see Thread#thread_variable_get and Thread#[] for more information.

Returns an array of the names of the thread-local variables (as Symbols).

thr = Thread.new do
  Thread.current.thread_variable_set(:cat, 'meow')
  Thread.current.thread_variable_set("dog", 'woof')
end
thr.join               #=> #<Thread:0x401b3f10 dead>
thr.thread_variables   #=> [:dog, :cat]

Note that these are not fiber local variables. Please see Thread#[] and Thread#thread_variable_get for more details.

Dump the name, id, and status of thr to a string.

Waits for thr to complete, using join, and returns its value or raises the exception which terminated the thread.

a = Thread.new { 2 + 2 }
a.value   #=> 4

b = Thread.new { raise 'something went wrong' }
b.value   #=> RuntimeError: something went wrong

Marks a given thread as eligible for scheduling, however it may still remain blocked on I/O.

Note: This does not invoke the scheduler, see run for more information.

c = Thread.new { Thread.stop; puts "hey!" }
sleep 0.1 while c.status!='sleep'
c.wakeup
c.join
#=> "hey!"