The Boost C++ Libraries


Almost all classes provided by Boost.Signals2 are thread safe and can be used in multithreaded applications. For example, objects of type boost::signals2::signal and boost::signals2::connection can be accessed from different threads.

On the other hand, boost::signals2::shared_connection_block is not thread safe. This limitation is not important because multiple objects of type boost::signals2::shared_connection_block can be created in different threads and can use the same connection object.

Example 67.17. boost::signals2::signal is thread safe
#include <boost/signals2.hpp>
#include <thread>
#include <mutex>
#include <iostream>

boost::signals2::signal<void(int)> s;
std::mutex m;

void loop()
  for (int i = 0; i < 100; ++i)

int main()
  s.connect([](int i){
    std::lock_guard<std::mutex> lock{m};
    std::cout << i << '\n';
  std::thread t1{loop};
  std::thread t2{loop};

Example 67.17 creates two threads that execute the loop() function, which accesses s one hundred times to call the associated lambda function. Boost.Signals2 explicitly supports simultaneous access from different threads to objects of type boost::signals2::signal.

Example 67.17 displays numbers from 0 to 99. Because i is incremented in two threads and written to the standard output stream in the lambda function, the numbers will not only be displayed twice, they will also overlap. However, because boost::signals2::signal can be accessed from different threads, the program will not crash.

However, Example 67.17 still requires synchronization. Because two threads access s, the associated lambda function runs in parallel in two threads. To avoid having the two threads interrupt each other while writing to standard output, a mutex is used to synchronize access to std::cout.

For single-threaded applications, support for multithreading can be disabled in Boost.Signals2.

Example 67.18. boost::signals2::signal without thread safety
#include <boost/signals2.hpp>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::signals2;

signal<void()> s;

int main()
  typedef keywords::mutex_type<dummy_mutex> dummy_mutex;
  signal_type<void(), dummy_mutex>::type s;
  s.connect([]{ std::cout << "Hello, world!\n"; });

Out of the many template parameters supported by boost::signals2::signal, the last one defines the type of mutex used for synchronization. Fortunately, Boost.Signals2 offers a simpler way to disable synchronization than passing the complete list of parameters.

The boost::signals2::keywords namespace contains classes that make it possible to pass template parameters by name. boost::signals2::keywords::mutex_type can be used to pass the mutex type as the second template parameter to boost::signals2::signal_type. Please note that boost::signals2::signal_type, not boost::signals2::signal, must be used in this case. The type equivalent to boost::signals2::signal, which is required to define the signal s, is retrieved via boost::signals2::signal_type::type.

Boost.Signals2 provides an empty mutex implementation called boost::signals2::dummy_mutex. If a signal is defined with this class, it will no longer support multithreading (see Example 67.18).