Amey Jah Amey Jah - 27 days ago 23
C++ Question

Is stl vector concurrent read thread-safe?

I am working on a application where huge number of threads are expected to iterate over set of string values and try to match it's own data with the data available in the list.

I am looking for following use case:


  1. Vector is initialized with few elements of type std::string. (Lets say object name is strList). strList will get initialized at the time of application startup.

  2. All threads will iterate over strList to see if it's value matches with atleast one element of strList.

  3. No thread will ever try to modify strList and it will be strictly used as readonly object.



So could you please tell me if concurrent reads are thread-safe on vector object. I am using RHEL 6 and gcc version is 4.5.x

Answer

YES for the scenario you mention, it is perfectly Thread Safe.


Actually, STL is not a correct way of referring it.
It is the C++ Standard Library.

The C++03 Standard does not talk about concurrency at all, So the concurrency aspect is left out as an implementation detail for compilers. So the documentation that comes with your compiler is where one should look to for answers related to concurrency.

Most of the STL implementations are not thread safe as such.
But for concurrent reads of same object from multiple threads most implementations of STL are indeed thread safe.

References:

MSDN says:

A single object is thread safe for reading from multiple threads. For example, given an object A, it is safe to read A from thread 1 and from thread 2 simultaneously.

The Dinkumware STL-Documentation says:

Multiple threads can safely read the same container object. (There are nunprotected mutable subobjects within a container object.)

GCC Documentation says:

We currently use the SGI STL definition of thread safety, which states:

The SGI implementation of STL is thread-safe only in the sense that simultaneous accesses to distinct containers are safe, and simultaneous read accesses to to shared containers are safe. If multiple threads access a single container, and at least one thread may potentially write, then the user is responsible for ensuring mutual exclusion between the threads during the container accesses.

So from the above, Yes it is thread safe in GCC to have concurrent reads of same object from multiple threads.

Note: GCC's Standard Library is a derivative of SGI's STL code.