CppCon 2019: A Unifying Abstraction for Async in C++--Eric Niebler, David Hollman

This year, CppCon 2020 is going virtual. The dates are still the same – September 14-18 – and we are aiming for the CppCon live event to have pretty much everything you’re familiar with at CppCon except moved online: multiple tracks including “back to basics” and a new “embedded” track; live speaker Q&A; live talk time zones friendly to Americas and EMEA (and we’re going to try to arrange around-the-clock recorded repeats in all time zones, where speakers who are available can be available for live Q&A in their repeated talks too, and we’ll do that if it’s possible – but we’re still working on it!); virtual tables where you can interact face-to-face online with other attendees just like at the physical event; virtual exhibitor spaces where you can meet the folks on your favorite product’s teams to ask them question face-to-face; pre- and post-conference classes; and even the CppCon house band playing live before every plenary session. All talk recordings will be freely available as usual on YouTube a month or two after the event, but everything else above will be available only live during CppCon week.

To whet your appetite for this year’s conference, here’s another of the top-rated talks from last year. Enjoy – and register today for CppCon 2020 – all the spirit and flavor of CppCon, this year all virtual and online!

A Unifying Abstraction for Async in C++

by Eric Niebler, David Hollman

Summary of the talk:

Async in C++ is in a sad state. The standard tools -- promises, futures, threads, locks, and std::async -- are either inefficient, broken, or both. Even worse, there is no standard way to say _where_ work should happen. Parallel algorithms, heterogeneous computing, networking & IO, reactive streams, and more: all critically important foundational technologies that await a standard abstraction for asynchronous computation.

In this talk, Eric Niebler and David Hollman dig into the Standard Committee's search for the basis operations that underpin all asynchronous computation: the long-sought Executor concept. The latest iteration of Executors is based on the Sender/Receiver programming model, which provides a generalization of many existing paradigms in asynchronous programming, including future/promise, message passing, continuation passing, channels, and the observer pattern from reactive programming. It also has surprising and deep connections to coroutines, which further demonstrates the model’s potential to be a truly unifying abstraction for asynchronous programming in C++20 and beyond.

Eric and David will present the short-term and long-term directions for Executors in ISO Standard C++, illustrating the design by walking through several implementation examples. They will talk about the direct connection between coroutines and the Sender/Receiver model and discuss what it means for the future of asynchronous APIs in C++. Finally, they will cover how the restrictions imposed by the Executors model should affect the way you write code today so your code is ready for the next big revolution in parallel and concurrent C++ programming.

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