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This i s a vastly simplified example, but it's a good approximation o f the structure Usually we would have to handle shutdown In this example, both P rod u c e r Loop and Co n s u m e r Loop go on forever (ie, they use a
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wh i l e ( t r u e ) loop); a more realistic design would be to use a shutdown flag
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set during shutdown that is polled periodically by both methods to deter mine when to quit Often that would involve ensuring that the consumers have finished consuming all items of interest before quitting, whereas the producer may quit right away This is a very specific (and simplistic) example of a pipeline Pipelines are akin to assembly lines in a production factory and arise in many settings
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A pipeline i s generally comprised o f one o r more stages (usually a t least two), and each stage is responsible for both consuming and producing some items of interest In other words, each pair of adjacent stages forms a producer / consumer pair In the simple example we just saw, the producers were one stage and the consumers were another The "last" stage in a pipeline may or may not generate any data items of interest; in some cases, the "items" generated may simply be side effects that result from processing the data, such as displaying the results on a CUI Not only are there multiple stages in a pipeline, but, as with the previ ous example, there can be multiple threads of execution for any given stage The number of threads dedicated to each stage need not be identical, and inequities are sometimes necessary to achieve load balance When the num ber of threads differs from one stage to the next, the pipeline is said to be nonlinear When they are identical for each stage, the pipeline is linear This is illustrated in Figure 1 33
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Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
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FI G U R E 1 3 3 : I llustration of linear and nonlinear pipelines
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Pipeline stages are often configurable and pluggable For instance, a pipeline that operates on C a r objects can have stages added or removed depending on the operations being performed: that is, in one pipeline the stages might be dedicated to assembly (such as "install motor," "add wheels," "paint the car," and so on), whereas in a completely different assem bly they might not (eg, "wash car," "repair cracked fender," and so forth) The C a r itself needn't know anything about the structure of this pipeline, stages needn't know of each other, and in fact, the basic structure and logic of the pipeline itself doesn't even need to know about the individual stages
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A Generalized Pipeline Type
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Let's look at a generalized P i p e l i n e < TS r c , TDest > data structure It allows you to build a pipeline comprised of an arbitrary number of stages, each of which has an arbitrary number of threads dedicated to it TS r c represents the type of the source data fed into the start of the pipeline, and TDe st is the final output for the whole pipeline A pipeline is comprised of one or more P i p e l i n eS t a ge < T I n put , TOut put > objects, for which T I n put repre sents the input type and TOut p u t represents the output for the stage in question For each pipeline, the first stage's input type will be the same as
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T S r c , and the last stage's output type will be the same as TDe st Users of the P i p e l i n e < TS r c , TDe s t > class never deal with individual stage objects
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they are used for implementation only Before diving into the type's implementation, here is a sample of its usage Imagine we want to create a pipeline that represents the high-level process of turning copper ore into pure copper suitable for commercial use There are three distinct phases in this process: the first phase takes the raw copper ore (represented with a CopperOre object) and crushes and grinds it into powder (Coppe rPowd e r); the second phase applies a pyrometallurgical process to turn the powder into pure unrefined copper (un ref i n edCoppe r); and the third and final stage roasts and smelts the unrefined copper to pro duce oxidized, pure copper (Pu reCopper) ready for consumption
P i p e l i n e < CopperOre , CopperPowd e r > pa = new P i p e l i n e < CopperOre , Coppe rPowde r > ( ore = > C r u s h RawCopperOre ( o re ) , 2 )j