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How can we enable two or more spawned functions to communicate with each other? When different parts of a program run in parallel, it's almost certainly necessary to establish a means for these parts to communicate, exchange messages, or coordinate their actions effectively.

One of the primary mechanisms provided by Argon for achieving this is the use of Chan. Channels are synchronization primitives that facilitate communication between multiple fibers.

Depending on how they are constructed, they can act as straightforward synchronization mechanisms or as full-fledged message queues.

Channels automatically suspend the execution of the fiber if writing to or reading from the channel is not currently possible. This relieves the developer from the burden of managing low-level synchronization and allows them to focus solely on their code. In this way, channels simplify the task of enabling communication and coordination among concurrently executing parts of a program.

Channel creation

To create a Chan object in Argon, you simply need to invoke its constructor:

chan := Chan() 

# Messages queue
chan := Chan(backlog=100)

In the example above, a channel with the capability to send and receive a single message has been created (useful for synchronization operations). Then, in the second example, the optional associative parameter of the constructor is used to create a channel capable of functioning as a message queue.

This flexibility allows you to tailor the behavior of the channel to your specific needs, whether it's for simple synchronization or message passing.

Chan operations

There are two primary operations that can be performed on a channel: reading and writing.

To facilitate these operations, Argon provides two special operators:

  • write arrow ->
  • read arrow <-

Let's see how to use them in a real context:

import "io"

# Create a channel 'queue' with a backlog of 10 messages
queue := Chan(backlog=10)

# Create a rendezvous channel
rendezvous := Chan()

# Spawn a new fiber
spawn () => {
# Receive data from the 'queue' channel
data := <- queue

loop data != @stop {
data |> io.print

# Receive the next 'data' from the 'queue' channel
data = <- queue

# Send '@exit' to the 'rendezvous' channel when done
@exit -> rendezvous

fd :="file.txt")

lines := fd.readline(-1)

# Loop through each line
loop lines {
# Send 'lines' to the 'queue' channel
lines -> queue

# Read the next line
lines = fd.readline(-1)

# Send '@stop' to the 'queue' channel to signal the end of data
@stop -> queue

"Waiting printer to finish..." |> io.print

# Wait for the fiber to finish by reading from 'rendezvous'
<- rendezvous

"Exit!" |> io.print

This example demonstrates a scenario where data is read from a file, sent to a queue for processing by a separate fiber, and then the program waits for the fiber to finish processing before exiting.

The @stop and @exit atoms are used for synchronization and control flow between threads.