R-Friendly Multi-Threading in C++

Thomas Nagler

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Calling multi-threaded C++ code from R has its perils. Since the R interpreter is single-threaded, one must not check for user interruptions or print to the R console from multiple threads. One can, however, synchronize with R from the main thread. The R package RcppThread (current version 1.0.0) contains a header only C++ library for thread safe communication with R that exploits this fact. It includes C++ classes for threads, a thread pool, and parallel loops that routinely synchronize with R. This article explains the package's functionality and gives examples of its usage. The synchronization mechanism may also apply to other threading frameworks. Benchmarks suggest that, although synchronization causes overhead, the parallel abstractions of RcppThread are competitive with other popular libraries in typical scenarios encountered in statistical computing.

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