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by Jiří {x2} Činčura

Projection (select) on a collection running in parallel

2 Aug 2010 3 mins .NET, LINQ, Multithreading/Parallelism/Asynchronous/Concurrency

Here’s updated version of the method.

I have here another not-general-purpose-parallel/multihtreaded-method. 😃 To make a long story short I needed do some transformation on collection’s elements, aka projection. Unfortunately the method I was plugging in was doing some network requests, in fact couple of requests. Sequentially, blocking processing until the response came back. I know a proper way will be to turn these requests into asynchronous, unluckily this was part of bigger architecture I could not change. I didn’t want to use AsParallel method as I expected a need for more control maybe sometime later. So I solved it abusing ThreadPool threads. Bad for scheduler and memory, as I’ll be wasting threads and resources, blocking, until reply is sent by server, but very easy for me. I told you, abusing. 😉

So I came with this method. It’s utilizing new .NET Framework 4 concurrent collections, BlockingCollection in particular as it’s great for producer-consumer scenario and I want the method to return results whenever one is done (that also implies the ordering isn’t preserved).

internal static IEnumerable<TResult> ParallelProjection<TSource, TResult>(this IEnumerable<TSource> source, Func<TSource, TResult> projection, int maxParallelism)
	BlockingCollection<TResult> results = new BlockingCollection<TResult>();
	ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem((o) =>
		Semaphore semaphore = new Semaphore(maxParallelism, maxParallelism);
		CountdownEvent countdown = new CountdownEvent(1);
			foreach (var item in source)
					(element) =>
			if (countdown != null)
			if (semaphore != null)
	}, null);
	return results.GetConsumingEnumerable();

The method is straightforward, a lot of work was saved using the smart blocking collection. I’m simply reading items from the collection and applying the function to them. To not overload the system with huge number of threads I also added maxParallelism parameter. When this number of threads is processing items, I’ll stop scheduling more, using Semaphore, until some are done and again available. When there’s no item in source collection available and all item were processed I call CompleteAdding method to say I’m done and there will be no other items. Here I’m using CountdownEvent class initialized to 1 as you can’t, of course, add items if it reaches 0. Before final Wait I’m subtracting one to compensate this.

And that’s it. Again, it’s not general purpose method. Use with care, it may bring you even worse performance if wrongly used.

Profile Picture Jiří Činčura is .NET, C# and Firebird expert. He focuses on data and business layers, language constructs, parallelism, databases and performance. For almost two decades he contributes to open-source, i.e. FirebirdClient. He works as a senior software engineer for Microsoft. Frequent speaker and blogger at