Creating a task completion source for a C++ coroutine: Producing a result

Raymond

We’ve been looking at creating different types of awaitable synchronization objects. This time, we’ll create something analogous to what C# calls a Task­Completion­Source and what PPL calls a task_completion_event. For lack of a better name, I’m going to call it a result_holder.

A result_holder is an object that you can put a result into, and you can co_await it to wait for the result to appear. Once a result has been set, it can be retrieved multiple times. You can use this sort of object for one-time initialization, or if you want to cache the results of earlier calculations.

First, we need to teach our library about coroutines that return values. Up until now, the result of a co_await had always been void.

    template<typename State>
    class awaitable_state
    {
        ...

        void get_result() const noexcept { }

        auto await_resume(
            impl::node<extra_await_data>& node) noexcept
        {
            node.handle = nullptr;
            return parent().get_result();
        }
        ...
    };

    template<typename State>
    class awaitable_sync_object
    {
        ...

        struct awaiter
        {
            ...

            auto await_resume()
            { return s.await_resume(node); }

            ...
        }
    };

We allow the CRTP client to implement a method get_result, and whatever that method returns is the result of the co_await. By default, it’s just void, but we’re going to override it in our result_holder.

template<typename T>
struct result_holder_state :
    async_helpers::awaitable_state<result_holder_state<T>>
{
    std::atomic<bool> ready{ false };

    union optional
    {
        optional() {}
        ~optional() {}

        T value;
    } result;

    result_holder_state() {}
    result_holder_state(result_holder_state const&) = delete;
    void operator=(result_holder_state const&) = delete;

    ~result_holder_state()
    {
        if (ready.load(std::memory_order_relaxed)) {
            result.value.~T();
        }
    }

We build our own equivalent of std::optional<T> that supports querying atomically whether a value has been set. The atomic boolean ready becomes true when a value is set, and the union result holds the value if so. We use a union because unions do not construct or destruct their members by default. But it means that we must remember to do the construction and destruction ourselves.

This is not a general-purpose atomic optional because it supports only one-way transitions: You can go from unset to set, but once set, it’s stuck forever. This limitation allows the discriminant (ready) to be atomic.

    using typename result_holder_state::extra_await_data;
    using typename result_holder_state::node_list;

Since our state type is now a template type, we have to tell the compiler which identifiers are dependent names. We may as well just import them to save ourselves some typing.

    bool fast_claim(extra_await_data const&) noexcept
    {
        return ready.load(std::memory_order_acquire);
    }

    bool claim(extra_await_data const&) noexcept
    {
        return ready.load(std::memory_order_relaxed);
    }

If someone tries to co_await, we let the await complete immediately if the value is already ready.

    void set_result(node_list& list, T v)
    {
        if (!ready.load(std::memory_order_relaxed)) {
            new (std::addressof(result.value))
                T{ std::move<T>(v) };
            ready.store(true, std::memory_order_release);
            this->resume_all(list);
        }
    }

To set the result, we first check that we don’t have a result. If so, then we do nothing. You can set the result only once. Otherwise, we would have a race condition if one coroutine fetches the value while another is changing it.

If this is the first time anyone is setting the result, then we move the value into our private storage, using the placement new constructor. We provide the storage address via std::addressof to protect against the possibility that T has an overloaded operator&.

Only after the value is definitely set into our private storage do we mark the value as ready, and we do it with release semantics so that the effects of the constructor are fully visible before telling everybody that it’s ready to be read.

It’s also important to be aware that the constructor of T may throw an exception. In that case, the storage is destructed back to its uninitialized state, and the exception escapes. Another reason it’s important not to set ready or to add coroutines to the list before the value is definitely constructed.

    T get_result()
    {
        return result.value;
    }
};

And here’s where we override get_result so that the result of a co_await is the captured value.

We technically need an acquire fence here to ensure that all the changes to value made by the set_result are visible to the current. We get away without one because we put an acquire fence in await_ready!

template<typename T>
struct result_holder
    : async_helpers::awaitable_sync_object<
        result_holder_state<T>>
{
    using typename result_holder::state;

    void set_result(T result) const noexcept
    {
        this->action_impl(&state::set_result,
            std::move(result));
    }
};

The object itself is not particularly exciting. Setting the result on the main object moves the value into the state.

Now you have an object that you can put results into, and co_awaiting it will wait until results appear.

result_holder<int> universe;

// coroutine 1:
auto answer = co_await universe;

// coroutine 2:
universe.set_result(42);

But this code is still broken.

We’ll look more closely next time.

3 comments

Comments are closed. Login to edit/delete your existing comments

  • 紅樓鍮
    1. Isn’t it better to handle calling set_result by debug asserting? If that should happen then definitely the caller’s code is not correct.
    2. I guess you don’t have to manually delete the copy constructors, because std::atomic is not copy-constructible.
    • Raymond ChenMicrosoft employee

      It seems that different libraries have different ideas on whether trying to set multiple results is an error. C# TaskCompletionSource and C++ std::promise consider it an error, but PPL task_completion_event and JavaScript Promise don’t. You are welcome to add an “else throw custom_exception()” if you like. I didn’t want to get into an argument over which exception library to use.

      • Ian Yates

        At least in C# (not sure about C, etc) the intellisense makes it reasonably obvious that setting the result could throw if it was previously set because they’re a Try* variant of the method to set the result (or flag cancelled or to stash an exception). It’s nice when things follow the obvious patterns