Concurrent Programming on Windows 1st Edition
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“I have been fascinated with concurrency ever since I added threading support to the Common Language Runtime a decade ago. That’s also where I met Joe, who is a world expert on this topic. These days, concurrency is a first-order concern for practically all developers. Thank goodness for Joe’s book. It is a tour de force and I shall rely on it for many years to come.”
—Chris Brumme, Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft
“I first met Joe when we were both working with the Microsoft CLR team. At that time, we had several discussions about threading and it was apparent that he was as passionate about this subject as I was. Later, Joe transitioned to Microsoft’s Parallel Computing Platform team where a lot of his good ideas about threading could come to fruition. Most threading and concurrency books that I have come across contain information that is incorrect and explains how to solve contrived problems that good architecture would never get you into in the first place. Joe’s book is one of the very few books that I respect on the matter, and this respect comes from knowing Joe’s knowledge, experience, and his ability to explain concepts.”
—Jeffrey Richter, Wintellect
“There are few areas in computing that are as important, or shrouded in mystery, as concurrency. It’s not simple, and Duffy doesn’t claim to make it so—but armed with the right information and excellent advice, creating correct and highly scalable systems is at least possible. Every self-respecting Windows developer should read this book.”
—Jonathan Skeet, Software Engineer, Clearswift
“What I love about this book is that it is both comprehensive in its coverage of concurrency on the Windows platform, as well as very practical in its presentation of techniques immediately applicable to real-world software development. Joe’s book is a ‘must have’ resource for anyone building native or managed code Windows applications that leverage concurrency!”
—Steve Teixeira, Product Unit Manager, Parallel Computing Platform, Microsoft Corporation
“This book is a fabulous compendium of both theoretical knowledge and practical guidance on writing effective concurrent applications. Joe Duffy is not only a preeminent expert in the art of developing parallel applications for Windows, he’s also a true student of the art of writing. For this book, he has combined those two skill sets to create what deserves and is destined to be a long-standing classic in developers’ hands everywhere.”
—Stephen Toub, Program Manager Lead, Parallel Computing Platform, Microsoft
“As chip designers run out of ways to make the individual chip faster, they have moved towards adding parallel compute capacity instead. Consumer PCs with multiple cores are now commonplace. We are at an inflection point where improved performance will no longer come from faster chips but rather from our ability as software developers to exploit concurrency. Understanding the concepts of concurrent programming and how to write concurrent code has therefore become a crucial part of writing successful software. With Concurrent Programming on Windows, Joe Duffy has done a great job explaining concurrent concepts from the fundamentals through advanced techniques. The detailed descriptions of algorithms and their interaction with the underlying hardware turn a complicated subject into something very approachable. This book is the perfect companion to have at your side while writing concurrent software for Windows.”
—Jason Zander, General Manager, Visual Studio, Microsoft
About the Author
Joe Duffy is the development lead, architect, and founder of the Parallel Extensions to the .NET Framework team at Microsoft. In addition to hacking code and managing a team of developers, he works on long-term vision and incubation efforts, such as language and type system support for concurrency safety. He previously worked on the Common Language Runtime team. Joe blogs regularly at www.bluebytesoftware.com/blog.
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Joe takes the reader through all sorts of things in this book, from basic synchronization algorithms (and why we need them), formally defining threads, Windows and .NET APIs, synchronization primitives, memory models, and so much more. I haven't quite finished this book yet, but have am on the last chapter (then there are two appendices). Not all of the code samples work if you try to run them, however, the minor typos that exist in the code and the text are easy enough to overcome.
I came at this book knowing the basics of programming in C#, but not really knowing a whole lot about concurrency issues. While I don't even pretend to be an expert at this now, I do at least feel comfortable analyzing code and making decisions about what to do for various problems, and also feel that I can at least have an intelligent conversation about the topics covered in this book. This book has also helped me cultivate a much deeper understanding of how a bunch of things in Windows, the CLR, and the .NET Framework work (beyond just concurrency issues).
This book is pretty hefty. I'm not even finished and I'm over 800 pages in, and I would say that at least 85% of the topics in this book have helped me in my job. I would recommend this book to just about anyone that's starting out. The only thing I can say is as you start to get comfortable with the things Joe discusses, take a break to go read Appendix A, where he talks about ways that the lay person should and should not apply the knowledge in this book.
This book does not deal with the Task Parallel Library very much, as it wasn't released when Joe wrote the book. If you're looking for a book on modern .NET Concurrency, I would recommend Stephen Cleary's Concurrency in C# Cookbook (forwarded by Stephen Toub; Stephen has a website you can read to preview some of his writing). With that said, this book deals with a lot of interesting, low-level details. It's definitely a good read for the curious, or for anyone contributing to a legacy .NET codebase.
However, why did the publisher not correct the hundreds of errors found in the 2nd printing, now that the 4th printing is out?
=> read the errata before studying the book!
The book is not for beginner developers, nor frankly for intermediate developers. If, however, you regard yourself as a professional computer scientist writing the most exacting server applications for Windows, this book is so far better than any other that there is no basis for comparison with another.
I rewrote the main set of Windows-to-mainframe integration libraries used by thousands of banks using this as a reference and doubled the speed and scalability of the libraries. I also wrote an application that completely replicated the functionality of a popular performance testing software suite with these techniques. Many thanks to Joe Duffy.
Top international reviews
Although split into 4 sections you can really think of this as 2 books, sections 1 and 2 are a guide to threading on Windows, sections 3 and 4 cover concurrent programming techniques.
Even if you have been programming on Windows for years and consider yourself au-fait with threading you will be amazed at the breadth and depth of information in the guide to threading. There is low level detail on everything from thread local storage to thread pools (both managed and unmanaged) and a lot of coverage of additional kernal level functions available only to unmanaged developers working in Vista or Server 2008.
The book covers ways to utilise multiple CPU's, ways to measure utilisation and low level knowledge that one can apply to write perfomant code, having used many of the techniques myself they do work and it is eye opening quite how much faster you can make many sever operations. Maybe the most eye opening element is details on the re-ordering that compilers do, especially on 64bit processors, there is discussion of use of memory barriers to force operation ordering.
By now I am sure you get the impression, this is low level stuff, very useful to those working on c++ server code, possibly less applicable to most .Net developers.
The real flaw with the guide to threading section is that there is no adequate index or contents section and that each chapter does not contain a summary of what is covered, this makes using the book as a reference unnecessarily time consuming.
The concurrent programming techniques, section 3 and 4 and appendices, is a bit hit and miss in my opinion, there is a fine discussion of liveness hazards (deadlocks and livelock etc.) and low lock code, but some of the stuff on data / task parallelism seems a little simplistic for a book at this level. The last section on GUI development basically be summarised as don't do too much work on the GUI thread, which if you have got this far in the book I think you would know.
Although the concurrent programming techniques section is more applied than the first half of the book don't expect to lift many code samples from it, it's really not that kind of book.
To summarise, if you want to know the low level details of threading / parallelism on windows and you have a lot of time to read one then this is the book for you. If you want a multi-threading cookbook best look elsewhere.
Frequent references to C/C++ or even assembler may make it difficult to .NET only developers. As it is packed with rather in depth information it is not an easy read, so if you are looking for a quick "how to" guide this book may not be ideal.
I highly recommended it if you want to dive deeper than what's available in .NET framework library. If you read it it's going to be probably the last book on the subject that you will ever have to read.