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37.3 Condition Variables

A condition variable is a way for a thread to block until some event occurs. A thread can wait on a condition variable, to be woken up when some other thread notifies the condition.

A condition variable is associated with a mutex and, conceptually, with some condition. For proper operation, the mutex must be acquired, and then a waiting thread must loop, testing the condition and waiting on the condition variable. For example:

(with-mutex mutex
(while (not global-variable)
(condition-wait cond-var)))

The mutex ensures atomicity, and the loop is for robustness—there may be spurious notifications.

Similarly, the mutex must be held before notifying the condition. The typical, and best, approach is to acquire the mutex, make the changes associated with this condition, and then notify it:

(with-mutex mutex
(setq global-variable (some-computation))
(condition-notify cond-var))

function make-condition-variable mutex \&optional name

Make a new condition variable associated with mutex. If name is specified, it is a name given to the condition variable. It must be a string. The name is for debugging purposes only; it has no meaning to Emacs.

function condition-variable-p object

This function returns t if object represents a condition variable, nil otherwise.

function condition-wait cond

Wait for another thread to notify cond, a condition variable. This function will block until the condition is notified, or until a signal is delivered to this thread using thread-signal.

It is an error to call condition-wait without holding the condition’s associated mutex.

condition-wait releases the associated mutex while waiting. This allows other threads to acquire the mutex in order to notify the condition.

function condition-notify cond \&optional all

Notify cond. The mutex with cond must be held before calling this. Ordinarily a single waiting thread is woken by condition-notify; but if all is not nil, then all threads waiting on cond are notified.

condition-notify releases the associated mutex while waiting. This allows other threads to acquire the mutex in order to wait on the condition.

function condition-name cond

Return the name of cond, as passed to make-condition-variable.

function condition-mutex cond

Return the mutex associated with cond. Note that the associated mutex cannot be changed.