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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE book [
<!ENTITY % eclent SYSTEM "ecl.ent">
<book xmlns="http://docbook.org/ns/docbook" version="5.0" xml:lang="en">
 <chapter xml:id="ext.mp">

  <section xml:id="ext.mp.threads">
   <title>Tasks, threads or processes</title>

   <para>On most platforms, &ECL; supports native multithreading. That means
   there can be several tasks executing lisp code on parallel and sharing
   memory, variables and files. The interface for multitasting in &ECL;, like
   those of most other implementations, is based on a set of functions and
   types that resemble the multiprocessing capabilities of old Lisp Machines.

   <para>This backward compatibility is why tasks or threads are called
   "processes". However, they should not be confused with operating system
   processes, which are made of programs running in separate contexts and
   without access to each other's memory.</para>

   <para>The implementation of threads in &ECL; is purely native and based on
   Posix Threads wherever avaiable. The use of native threads has
   advantanges. For instance, they allow for non-blocking file operations,
   so that while one task is reading a file, a different one is performing
   a computation.</para>

   <para>As mentioned above, tasks share the same memory, as well as the set of
   open files and sockets. This manifests on two features. First of all,
   different tasks can operate on the same lisp objects, reading and writing
   their slots, or manipulating the same arrays. Second, while threads share
   global variables, constants and function definitions they can also have
   thread-local bindings to special variables that are not seen by other

   <para>The fact that different tasks have access to the same set of data
   allows both for flexibility and a greater risk. In order to control access
   to different resources, &ECL; provides the user with locks, as explained in
   the next section.</para>


  <xi:include xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"  href="ref_mp.xmlf" xpointer="ext.mp.dict"/>

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