E.Z. E.Z. - 1 month ago 11
Python Question

How to make built-in containers (sets, dicts, lists) thread safe?

I understand from this question that if I want to have a

set
which is thread-safe I have to implement the thread-safety part on my own.

Therefore I could come up with:

from threading import Lock

class LockedSet(set):
"""A set where add() and remove() are thread-safe"""

def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
# Create a lock
self._lock = Lock()
# Call the original __init__
super(LockedSet, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)

def add(self, elem):
self._lock.acquire()
try:
super(LockedSet, self).add(elem)
finally:
self._lock.release()

def remove(self, elem):
self._lock.acquire()
try:
super(LockedSet, self).remove(elem)
finally:
self._lock.release()


So, of course only add() and remove() are thread-safe in this implementation. The other methods are not because they were not overwritten in the subclass.

Now, the pattern is pretty simple: acquire lock, call original method, release lock.
If I follow the logic above, I would have to overwrite all methods exposed by
set
in essentially the same way, e.g.:

(pseudo-code)

def <method>(<args>):
1. acquire lock
2. try:
3. call original method passing <args>
4. finally:
5. release lock


(/pseudo-code)

This is not only tedious but also prone to errors. So, any ideas/suggestions on how to approach this in a better way?

Answer

You can use Python's metaprogramming facilities to accomplish this. (Note: written quickly and not thoroughly tested.) I prefer to use a class decorator.

I also think you may need to lock more than add and remove to make a set thread-safe, but I'm not sure. I'll ignore that problem and just concentrate on your question.

Also consider whether delegation (proxying) is a better fit than subclassing. Wrapping objects is the usual approach in Python.

Finally, there is no "magic wand" of metaprogramming that will magically add fine-grained locking to any mutable Python collection. The safest thing to do is to lock any method or attribute access using RLock, but this is very coarse-grained and slow and probably still not a guarantee that your object will be thread-safe in all cases. (For example, you may have a collection that manipulates another non-threadsafe object accessible to other threads.) You really do need to examine each and every data structure and think about what operations are atomic or require locks and which methods might call other methods using the same lock (i.e., deadlock itself).

That said, here are some techniques at your disposal in increasing order of abstraction:

Delegation

class LockProxy(object):
    def __init__(self, obj):
        self.__obj = obj
        self.__lock = RLock()
        # RLock because object methods may call own methods
    def __getattr__(self, name):
        def wrapped(*a, **k):
            with self.__lock:
                getattr(self.__obj, name)(*a, **k)
        return wrapped

lockedset = LockProxy(set([1,2,3]))

Context manager

class LockedSet(set):
    """A set where add() and remove() are thread-safe"""

    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        self._lock = Lock()
        super(LockedSet, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)

    def add(self, elem):
        with self._lock:
            super(LockedSet, self).add(elem)

    def remove(self, elem):
        with self._lock:
            super(LockedSet, self).remove(elem)

    def __contains__(self, elem):
        with self._lock:
            super(LockedSet, self).__contains__(elem)

Decorator

def locked_method(method):
    """Method decorator. Requires a lock object at self._lock"""
    def newmethod(self, *args, **kwargs):
        with self._lock:
            return method(self, *args, **kwargs)
    return newmethod

class DecoratorLockedSet(set):
    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        self._lock = Lock()
        super(DecoratorLockedSet, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)

    @locked_method
    def add(self, *args, **kwargs):
        return super(DecoratorLockedSet, self).add(elem)

    @locked_method
    def remove(self, *args, **kwargs):
        return super(DecoratorLockedSet, self).remove(elem)

Class Decorator

I think this is the cleanest and easiest-to-understand of the abstract methods, so I've expanded it to allow one to specify the methods to lock and a lock object factory.

def lock_class(methodnames, lockfactory):
    return lambda cls: make_threadsafe(cls, methodnames, lockfactory)

def lock_method(method):
    if getattr(method, '__is_locked', False):
        raise TypeError("Method %r is already locked!" % method)
    def locked_method(self, *arg, **kwarg):
        with self._lock:
            return method(self, *arg, **kwarg)
    locked_method.__name__ = '%s(%s)' % ('lock_method', method.__name__)
    locked_method.__is_locked = True
    return locked_method


def make_threadsafe(cls, methodnames, lockfactory):
    init = cls.__init__
    def newinit(self, *arg, **kwarg):
        init(self, *arg, **kwarg)
        self._lock = lockfactory()
    cls.__init__ = newinit

    for methodname in methodnames:
        oldmethod = getattr(cls, methodname)
        newmethod = lock_method(oldmethod)
        setattr(cls, methodname, newmethod)

    return cls


@lock_class(['add','remove'], Lock)
class ClassDecoratorLockedSet(set):
    @lock_method # if you double-lock a method, a TypeError is raised
    def frobnify(self):
        pass

Override Attribute access with __getattribute__

class AttrLockedSet(set):
    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        self._lock = Lock()
        super(AttrLockedSet, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)

    def __getattribute__(self, name):
        if name in ['add','remove']:
            # note: makes a new callable object "lockedmethod" on every call
            # best to add a layer of memoization
            lock = self._lock
            def lockedmethod(*args, **kwargs):
                with lock:
                    return super(AttrLockedSet, self).__getattribute__(name)(*args, **kwargs)
            return lockedmethod
        else:
            return super(AttrLockedSet, self).__getattribute__(name)

Dynamically-added wrapper methods with __new__

class NewLockedSet(set):
    def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
        # modify the class by adding new unbound methods
        # you could also attach a single __getattribute__ like above
        for membername in ['add', 'remove']:
            def scoper(membername=membername):
                # You can also return the function or use a class
                def lockedmethod(self, *args, **kwargs):
                    with self._lock:
                        m = getattr(super(NewLockedSet, self), membername)
                        return m(*args, **kwargs)
                lockedmethod.__name__ = membername
                setattr(cls, membername, lockedmethod)
        self = super(NewLockedSet, cls).__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)
        self._lock = Lock()
        return self

Dynamically-added wrapper methods with __metaclass__

def _lockname(classname):
    return '_%s__%s' % (classname, 'lock')

class LockedClass(type):
    def __new__(mcls, name, bases, dict_):
        # we'll bind these after we add the methods
        cls = None
        def lockmethodfactory(methodname, lockattr):
            def lockedmethod(self, *args, **kwargs):
                with getattr(self, lockattr):
                    m = getattr(super(cls, self), methodname)
                    return m(*args,**kwargs)
            lockedmethod.__name__ = methodname
            return lockedmethod
        lockattr = _lockname(name)
        for methodname in ['add','remove']:
            dict_[methodname] = lockmethodfactory(methodname, lockattr)
        cls = type.__new__(mcls, name, bases, dict_)
        return cls

    def __call__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        #self is a class--i.e. an "instance" of the LockedClass type
        instance = super(LockedClass, self).__call__(*args, **kwargs)
        setattr(instance, _lockname(self.__name__), Lock())
        return instance



class MetaLockedSet(set):
    __metaclass__ = LockedClass

Dynamically-created Metaclasses

def LockedClassMetaFactory(wrapmethods):
    class LockedClass(type):
        def __new__(mcls, name, bases, dict_):
            # we'll bind these after we add the methods
            cls = None
            def lockmethodfactory(methodname, lockattr):
                def lockedmethod(self, *args, **kwargs):
                    with getattr(self, lockattr):
                        m = getattr(super(cls, self), methodname)
                        return m(*args,**kwargs)
                lockedmethod.__name__ = methodname
                return lockedmethod
            lockattr = _lockname(name)
            for methodname in wrapmethods:
                dict_[methodname] = lockmethodfactory(methodname, lockattr)
            cls = type.__new__(mcls, name, bases, dict_)
            return cls

        def __call__(self, *args, **kwargs):
            #self is a class--i.e. an "instance" of the LockedClass type
            instance = super(LockedClass, self).__call__(*args, **kwargs)
            setattr(instance, _lockname(self.__name__), Lock())
            return instance
    return LockedClass

class MetaFactoryLockedSet(set):
    __metaclass__ = LockedClassMetaFactory(['add','remove'])

I'll bet using a simple, explicit try...finally doesn't look so bad now, right?

Exercise for the reader: let the caller pass in their own Lock() object (dependency injection) using any of these methods.