This post is the second post in my series on Rayon’s parallel iterators. The goal of this series is to explain how parallel iterators are implemented internally, so I’m going to be going over a lot of details and giving a lot of little code examples in Rust. If all you want to do is use parallel iterators, you don’t really have to understand any of this stuff.

I’ve had a lot of fun designing this system, and I learned a few lessons about how best to use Rust (some of which I cover in the conclusions). I hope you enjoy reading about it!

This post is part 2 of a series. In the initial post I covered sequential iterators, using this dot-product as my running example:

vec1.iter()
    .zip(vec2.iter())
    .map(|(i, j)| i * j)
    .sum()

In this post, we are going to take a first stab at extending sequential iterators to parallel computation, using something I call parallel producers. At the end of the post, we’ll have a system that can execute that same dot-product computation, but in parallel:

vec1.par_iter()
    .zip(vec2.par_iter())
    .map(|(i, j)| i * j)
    .sum()

Parallel producers are very cool, but they are not the end of the story! In the next post, we’ll cover parallel consumers, which build on parallel producers and add support for combinators which produce a variable number of items, like filter or flat_map.

Parallel Iteration

When I explained sequential iterators in the previous post, I sort of did it bottom-up: I started with how to get an iterator from a slice, then showed each combinator we were going to use in turn (zip, map), and finally showed how the sum operation at the end works.

To explain parallel iterators, I’m going to work in the opposite direction. I’ll start with the high-level view, explaining the ParallelIterator trait and how sum works, and then go look at how we implement the combinators. This is because the biggest difference in parallel iterators is actually the “end” operations, like sum, and not as much the combinators (or at least that is true for the combinators we’ll cover in this post).

In Rayon, the ParallelIterator traits are divided into a hierarchy:

  • ParallelIterator: any sort of parallel iterator.
  • BoundedParallelIterator: ParallelIterator: a parallel iterator that can give an upper-bound on how many items it will produce, such as filter.
  • ExactParallelIterator: BoundedParallelIterator: a parallel iterator that knows precisely how many items will be produced.
  • IndexedParallelIterator: ExactParallelIterator: a parallel iterator that can produce the item for a given index without producing all the previous items. A parallel iterator over a vector has this propery, since you can just index into the vector.
    • (In this post, we’ll be focusing on parallel iterators in this category. The next post will discuss how to handle things like filter and flat_map, where the number of items being iterated over cannot be known in advance.)

Like sequential iterators, parallel iterators represent a set of operations to be performed (but in parallel). You can use combinators like map and filter to build them up – doing so does not trigger any computation, but simply produces a new, extended parallel iterator. Finally, once you have constructed a parallel iterator that produces the values you want, you can use various “operation” methods like sum, reduce, and for_each to actually kick off execution.

This is roughly how the parallel iterator traits are defined:

trait ParallelIterator {
    type Item;

    // Combinators that produce new iterators:
    fn map(self, ...);
    fn filter(self, ...);   // we'll be discussing these...
    fn flat_map(self, ...); // ...in the next blog post

    // Operations that process the items being iterated over:
    fn sum(self, ...);
    fn reduce(self, ...);
    fn for_each(self, ...);
}

trait BoundedParallelIterator: ParallelIterator {
}

trait ExactParallelIterator: BoundedParallelIterator {
    fn len(&self) -> usize; // how many items will be produced
}

trait IndexedParallelIterator {
    // Combinators:
    fn zip(self, ...);
    fn enumerate(self, ...);

    // Operations:
    fn collect(self, ...);
    fn collect_into(self, ...);

    // I'll come to this one shortly :)
    fn with_producer<CB>(self, callback: CB)
        where CB: ProducerCallback<Self::Item>;
}

These look superficially similar to the sequential iterator traits, but you’ll notice some differences:

  • Perhaps most importantly, there is no next method! If you think about it, drawing the “next” item from an iterator is an inherently sequential notion. Instead, parallel iterators emphasize high-level operations like sum, reduce, collect, and for_each, which are then automatically distributed to worker threads.
  • Parallel iterators are much more sensitive to being indexable than sequential ones, so some combinators like zip and enumerate are only possible when the underlying iterator is indexed. We’ll discuss this in detail when covering the zip combinator.

Implementing sum with producers

One thing you may have noticed with the ParallelIterator traits is that, lacking a next method, there is no way to get data out of them! That is, we can build up a nice parallel iterator, and we can call sum (or some other high-level method), but how do we implement sum?

The answer lies in the with_producer method, which provides a way to convert the iterator into a producer. A producer is kind of like a splittable iterator: it is something that you can divide up into little pieces and, eventually, convert into a sequential iterator to get the data out. The trait definition looks like this:

trait Producer: IntoIterator {
    // Divide into two producers, one of which produces data
    // with indices `0..index` and the other with indices `index..`.
    fn split_at(self, index: usize) -> (Self, Self);
}

Using producers, we can implement a parallel version of sum based on a divide-and-conquer strategy. The idea is that we start out with some producer P and a count len indicating how many items it will produce. If that count is too big, then we divide P into two producers by calling split_at and then recursively sum those up (in parallel). Otherwise, if the count is small, then we convert P into an iterator and sum it up sequentially. We can convert to an iterator by using the into_iter method from the IntoIterator trait, which Producer extends. Here is a parallel version of sum that works for any producer (as with the sequential sum we saw, we simplify things by making it only word for i32 values):

fn sum_producer<P>(mut producer: P, len: usize) -> i32
    where P: Producer<Item=i32>
{
    if len > THRESHOLD {
        // Input too large: divide it up
        let mid = len / 2;
        let (left_producer, right_producer) =
            iter.split_at(mid);
        let (left_sum, right_sum) =
            rayon::join(
                || sum_producer(left_producer, mid),
                || sum_producer(right_producer, len - mid));
        left_sum + right_sum
    } else {
        // Input too small: sum sequentially
        let mut sum = 0.0;
        for value in producer {
            sum += value;
        }
        sum
    }
}

(The actual code in Rayon most comparable to this is called bridge_producer_consumer; it uses the same basic divide-and-conquer strategy, but it’s generic with respect to the operation being performed.)

Ownership, producers, and iterators

You may be wondering why I introduced a separate Producer trait rather than just adding split_at directly to one of the ParallelIterator traits? After all, with a sequential iterator, you just have one trait, Iterator, which has both “composition” methods like map and filter as well as next.

The reason has to do with ownership. It is very common to have shared resources that will be used by many threads at once during the parallel computation and which, after the computation is done, can be freed. We can model this easily by having those resources be owned by the parallel iterator but borrowed by the producers, since the producers only exist for the duration of the parallel computation. We’ll see an example of this later with the closure in the map combinator.

Implementing producers

When we looked at sequential iterators, we saw three impls: one for slices, one for zip, and one for map. Now we’ll look at how to implement the Producer trait for each of those same three cases.

Slice producers

Here is the code to implement Producer for slices. Since slices already support the split_at method, it is really very simple.

pub struct SliceProducer<'iter, T: 'iter> {
    slice: &'iter [T],
}

impl<'iter, T> Producer for SliceProducer<'iter, T> {
    // Split-at can just piggy-back on the existing `split_at`
    // method for slices.
    fn split_at(self, mid: usize) -> (Self, Self) {
        let (left, right) = self.slice.split_at(mid);
        (SliceProducer { slice: left },
         SliceProducer { slice: right })
    }
}

We also have to implement IntoIterator for SliceProducer, so that we can convert to sequential execution. This just builds on the slice iterator type SliceIter that we saw in the initial post (in fact, for the next two examples, I’ll just skip over the IntoIterator implementations, because they’re really quite straightforward):

impl<'iter, T> IntoIterator for SliceProducer<'iter, T> {
    type Item = &'iter T;
    type IntoIter = SliceIter<'iter, T>;
    fn into_iter(self) -> SliceIter<'iter, T> {
        self.slice.iter()
    }
}
Zip producers

Here is the code to implement the zip producer:

pub struct ZipProducer<A: Producer, B: Producer> {
    a: A,
    b: B
}

impl<A, B> Producer for ZipProducer<A, B>
    where A: Producer, B: Producer,
{
    type Item = (A::Item, B::Item);

    fn split_at(self, mid: usize) -> (Self, Self) {
        let (a_left, a_right) = self.a.split_at(mid);
        let (b_left, b_right) = self.b.split_at(mid);
        (ZipProducer { a: a_left, b: b_left },
         ZipProducer { a: a_right, b: b_right })
    }
}

What makes zip interesting is split_at – and I don’t mean the code itself, which is kind of obvious, but rather the implications of it. In particular, if we’re going to walk two iterators in lock-step and we want to be able to split them into two parts, then those two parts need to split at the same point, so that the items we’re walking stay lined up. This is exactly why the split_at method in the Producer takes a precise point where to perform the split.

If it weren’t for zip, you might imagine that instead of split_at you would just have a function like split, where the producer gets to pick the mid point:

fn split(self) -> (Self, Self);

But if we did this, then the two producers we are zipping might pick different points to split, and we wouldn’t get the right result.

The requirement that a producer be able to split itself at an arbitrary point means that some iterator combinators cannot be accommodated. For example, you can’t make a producer that implements the filter operation. After all, to produce the next item from a filtered iterator, we may have to consume any number of items from the base iterator before the filter function returns true – we just can’t know in advance. So we can’t expect to split a filter into two independent halves at any precise point. But don’t worry: we’ll get to filter (as well as the more interesting case of flat_map) later on in this blog post series.

Map producers

Here is the type for map producers.

pub struct MapProducer<'m, PROD, MAP_OP, RET>
    where PROD: Producer,
          MAP_OP: Fn(PROD::Item) -> RET + Sync + 'm,
{
    base: P,
    map_op: &'m MAP_OP
}

This type definition is pretty close to the sequential case, but there are a few crucial differences. Let’s look at the sequential case again for reference:

// Review: the sequential map iterator
pub struct MapIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: Iterator,
          MAP_OP: FnMut(ITER::Item) -> RET,
{
    base: ITER,
    map_op: MAP_OP
}

All of the differences between the (parallel) producer and the (sequential) iterator are due to the fact that the map closure is now something that we plan to share between threads, rather than using it only on a single thread. Let’s go over the differences one by one to see what I mean:

  • MAP_OP implements Fn, not FnMut:
    • The FnMut trait indicates a closure that receives unique, mutable access to its environment. That makes sense in a sequential setting, but in a parallel setting there could be many threads executing map at once. So we switch to the Fn trait, which only gives shared access to the environment. This is part of the way that Rayon can statically prevent data races; I’ll show some examples of that later on.
  • MAP_OP must be Sync:
    • The Sync trait indicates data that can be safely shared between threads. Since we plan to be sharing the map closure across many threads, it must be Sync.
  • the field map_op contains a reference &MAP_OP:
    • The sequential map iterator owned the closure MAP_OP, but the producer only has a shared reference. The reason for this is that the producer needs to be something we can split into two – and those two copies can’t both own the map_op, they need to share it.

Actually implementing the Producer trait is pretty straightforward. It looks like this:

impl<'m, PROD, MAP_OP, RET> Producer for MapProducer<'m, PROD, MAP_OP, RET>
    where PROD: Producer,
          MAP_OP: Fn(PROD::Item) -> RET + Sync + 'm,
{
    type Item = RET;

    fn split_at(self, mid: usize) -> (Self, Self) {
        let (left, right) = self.base.split_at(mid);
        (MapProducer { base: left, map_op: self.map_op },
         MapProducer { base: right, map_op: self.map_op })
    }
}

Whence it all comes

At this point we’ve seen most of how parallel iterators work:

  1. You create a parallel iterator by using the various combinator methods and so forth.
  2. When you invoke a high-level method like sum, sum will convert the parallel iterator into a producer.
  3. sum then recursively splits this producer into sub-producers until they represent a reasonably small (but not too small) unit of work. Each sub-producer is processed in parallel using rayon::join.
  4. Eventually, sum converts the producer into an iterator and performs that work sequentially.

In particular, we’ve looked in detail at the last two steps. But we’ve only given the first two a cursory glance. Before I finish, I want to cover how one constructs a parallel iterator and converts it to a producer – it seems simple, but the setup here is something that took me a long time to get right. Let’s look at the map combinator in detail, because it exposes the most interesting issues.

Defining the parallel iterator type for map

Let’s start by looking at how we define and create the parallel iterator type for map, MapParIter. The next section will dive into how we convert this type into the MapProducer we saw before.

Instances of the map combinator are created when you call map on some other, pre-existing parallel iterator. The map method itself simply creates an instance of MapParIter, which wraps up the base iterator self along with the mapping operation map_op:

trait ParallelIterator {
    type Item;

    fn map<MAP_OP, RET>(self, map_op: MAP_OP)
                       -> MapParIter<Self, MAP_OP, RET>
        where MAP_OP: Fn(Self::Item) -> RET + Sync,
    {
        MapParIter { base: self, map_op: map_op }
    }
}

The MapParIter struct is defined like so:

pub struct MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: ParallelIterator,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync,
{
    base: ITER,
    map_op: MAP_OP
}

The parallel iterator struct bears a strong resemblance to the producer struct (MapProducer) that we saw earlier, but there are some important differences:

  1. The base is another parallel iterator of type ITER, not a producer.
  2. The closure map_op is owned by the parallel iterator.

During the time when the producer is active, the parallel iterator will be the one that owns the shared resources (in this case, the closure) that the various threads need to make use of. Therefore, the iterator must outlive the entire high-level parallel operation, so that the data that those threads are sharing remains valid.

Of course, we must also implement the various ParallelIterator traits for MapParIter. For the basic ParallelIterator this is straight-forward:

impl<ITER, MAP_OP, RET> ParallelIterator for MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: ParallelIterator,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync,
{
    ...
}

When it comes to the more advanced classifications, such as BoundedParallelIterator or IndexedParallelIterator, we can’t say unilaterally whether maps qualify or not. Since maps produce one item for each item of the base iterator, they inherit their bounds from the base producer. If the base iterator is bounded, then a mapped version is also bounded, and so forth. We can reflect this by tweaking the where-clauses so that instead of requiring that ITER: ParallelIterator, we require that ITER: BoundedParallelIterator and so forth:

impl<ITER, MAP_OP, RET> BoundedParallelIterator for MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: BoundedParallelIterator,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync,
{
    ...
}

impl<ITER, MAP_OP, RET> IndexedParallelIterator for MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: IndexedParallelIterator,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync,
{
    ...
}

Converting a parallel iterator into a producer

So this brings us to the question: how do we convert a MapParIter into a MapProducer? My first thought was to have a method like into_producer as part of the IndexedParallelIterator trait:

// Initial, incorrect approach:
pub trait IndexedParallelIterator {
    type Producer;

    fn into_producer(self) -> Self::Producer;
}

This would then be called by the sum method to get a producer, which we could pass to the sum_producer method we wrote earlier. Unfortunately, while this setup is nice and simple, it doesn’t actually get the ownership structure right. What happens is that ownership of the iterator passes to the into_producer method, which then returns a producer – so all the resources owned by the iterator must either be transfered to the producer, or else they will be freed when into_producer returns. But it often happens that we have shared resources that the producer just wants to borrow, so that it can cheaply split itself without having to track ref counts or otherwise figure out when those resources can be freed.

Really the problem here is that into_producer puts the caller in charge of deciding how long the producer lives. What we want is a way to get a producer that can only be used for a limited duration. The best way to do that is with a callback. The idea is that instead of calling into_producer, and then having a producer returned to us, we will call with_producer and pass in a closure as argument. This closure will then get called with the producer. This producer may have borrowed references into shared state. Once the closure returns, the parallel operation is done, and so that shared state can be freed.

The signature looks like this:

trait IndexedParallelIterator {
    ...
    fn with_producer<CB>(self, callback: CB)
        where CB: ProducerCallback<Self::Item>;
}

Now, if you know Rust well, you might be surprised here. I said that with_producer takes a closure as argument, but typically in Rust a closure is some type that implements one of the closure traits (probably FnOnce, in this case, since we only plan to do a single callback). Instead, I have chosen to use a custom trait, ProducerCallback, defined as follows:

trait ProducerCallback<ITEM> {
    type Output;
    fn callback<P>(self, producer: P) -> Self::Output
        where P: Producer<Item=ITEM>;
}

Before I get into the reason to use a custom trait, let me just show you how one would implement with_producer for our map iterator type (actually, this is a simplified version, I’ll revisit this example in a bit to show the gory details):

impl IndexedParallelIterator for MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: ParallelIterator,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync
{
    fn with_producer<CB>(self, callback: CB)
        where CB: ProducerCallback<Self::Item>
    {
        let base_producer = /* convert base iterator into a
                               producer; more on this below */;
        let map_producer = MapProducer {
            base: base_producer,
            map_op: &self.map_op, // borrow the map op!
        };
        callback.callback(map_producer);
    }
}

So why did I choose to define a ProducerCallback trait instead of using FnOnce? The reason is that, by using a custom trait, we can make the callback method generic over the kind of producer that will be provided. As you can see below, the callback method just says it takes some producer type P, but it doesn’t get more specific than that:

    fn callback<P>(self, producer: P) -> Self::Output
        where P: Producer<Item=ITEM>;
        //    ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        //
        // It can be called back with *any* producer type `P`.

In contrast, if I were to use a FnOnce trait, I would have to write a bound that specifies the producer’s type (even if it does so through an associated type). For example, to use FnOnce, we might change the IndexedParallelIterator trait as follows:

trait IndexedParallelIteratorUsingFnOnce {
    type Producer: Producer<Self::Item>;
    //   ^~~~~~~~
    //
    // The type of producer this iterator creates.

    fn with_producer<CB>(self, callback: CB)
        where CB: FnOnce(Self::Producer);
        //               ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        //
        // The callback can expect a producer of this type.
}

(As an aside, it’s conceivable that we could add the ability to write where clauses like CB: for<P: Producer> FnOnce(P), which would be the equivalent of the custom trait, but we don’t have that. If you’re not familiar with that for notation, that’s fine.)

You may be wondering what it is so bad about adding a Producer associated type. The answer is that, in order for the Producer to be able to contain borrowed references into the iterator, its type will have to name lifetimes that are internal to the with_producer method. This is because the the iterator is owned by the with_producer method. But you can’t write those lifetime names as the value for an associated type. To see what I mean, imagine how we would write an impl for our modified IndexedParallelIteratorUsingFnOnce trait:

impl<ITER, MAP_OP, RET> IndexedParallelIteratorUsingFnOnce
    for MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: IndexedParallelIteratorUsingFnOnce,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync,
{
    type Producer = MapProducer<'m, ITER::Producer, MAP_OP, RET>;
    //                          ^~
    //
    // Wait, what is this lifetime `'m`? This is the lifetime for
    // which the `map_op` is borrowed -- but that is some lifetime
    // internal to `with_producer` (depicted below). We can't
    // name lifetimes from inside of a method from outside of that
    // method, since those names are not in scope here (and for good
    // reason: the method hasn't "been called" here, so it's not
    // clear what we are naming).

    fn with_producer<CB>(self, callback: CB)
        where CB: FnOnce(Self::Producer)
    {
        self.base.with_producer(|base_producer| {
            let map_producer = MapProducer { // +----+ 'm
                base: base_producer,         //      |
                map_op: &self.map_op,        //      |
            };                               //      |
            callback(map_producer);          //      |
        })                                   // <----+

    }
}

Using the generic ProducerCallback trait totally solves this problem, but it does mean that writing code which calls with_producer is kind of awkward. This is because we can’t take advantage of Rust’s builtin closure notation, as I was able to do in the previous, incorrect example. This means we have to “desugar” the closure manually, creating a struct that will store our environment. So if we want to see the full gory details, implementing with_producer for the map combinator looks like this (btw, here is the actual code from Rayon):

impl IndexedParallelIterator for MapParIter<ITER, MAP_OP, RET>
    where ITER: ParallelIterator,
          MAP_OP: Fn(ITER::Item) -> RET + Sync
{
    fn with_producer<CB>(self, callback: CB)
        where CB: ProducerCallback<RET>
    {
        let my_callback = MyCallback { // defined below
            callback: callback,
            map_op: &self.map_op,
        };
        
        self.base.with_producer(my_callback);
        
        struct MyCallback<'m, MAP_OP, CB> {
            //          ^~
            //
            // This is that same lifetime `'m` we had trouble with
            // in the previous example: but now it only has to be
            // named from *inside* `with_producer`, so we have no
            // problems.
            
            callback: CB,
            map_op: &'m MAP_OP
        }
        
        impl<'m, ITEM, MAP_OP, CB> ProducerCallback<ITEM> for MyCallback<'m, MAP_OP, CB>
            where /* omitted for "brevity" :) */
        {
            type Output = (); // return type of `callback`

            // The method that `self.base` will call with the
            // base producer:
            fn callback<P>(self, base_producer: P)
                where P: Producer<Item=ITEM>
            {
                // Wrap the base producer in a MapProducer.
                let map_producer = MapProducer {
                   base: base_producer,
                   map_op: self.map_op,
                };
                
                // Finally, callback the original callback,
                // giving them out `map_producer`.
                self.callback.callback(map_producer);
            }
        }
    }
}

Conclusions

OK, whew! We’ve now covered parallel producers from start to finish. The design you see here did not emerge fully formed: it is the result of a lot of iteration. This design has some nice features, many of which are shared with sequential iterators:

  • Efficient fallback to sequential processing. If you are processing a small amount of data, we will never bother with “splitting” the producer, and we’ll just fallback to using the same old sequential iterators you were using before, so you should have very little performance loss. When processing larger amounts of data, we will divide into threads – which you want – but when the chunks get small enough, we’ll use the same sequential processing to handle the leaves.
  • Lazy, no allocation, etc. You’ll note that nowhere in any of the above code did we do any allocation or eager computation.
  • Straightforward, no unsafe code. Something else that you didn’t see in this blog post: unsafe code. All the unsafety is packaged up in Rayon’s join method, and most of the parallel iterator code just leverages that. Overall, apart from the manual closure “desugaring” in the last section, writing producers is really pretty straightforward.

Things I learned

My last point above – that writing producers is fairly straightforward – was certainly not always the case: the initial designs required a lot of more “stuff” – phantom types, crazy lifetimes, etc. But I found that these are often signs that your traits could be adjusted to make things go more smoothly. Some of the primary lessons follow.

Align input/output type parameters on traits to go with dataflow. One of the biggest sources of problems for me was that I was overusing associated types, which wound up requiring a lot of phantom types and other things. At least in these cases, what worked well as a rule of thumb was this: if data is “flowing in” to the trait, it should be an input type parameter. It data is “flowing out”, it should be an associated type. So, for example, producers have an associated type Item, which indicates the kind of data a Producer or iterator will produce, is an associated type. But the ProducerCallback<T> trait is parameteried over T, the type of that the base producer will create.

Choose RAII vs callbacks based on who needs control. When designing APIs, we often tend to prefer RAII over callbacks. The immediate reason is often superficial: callbacks lead to rightward drift. But there is also a deeper reason: RAII can be more flexible.

Effectively, whether you use the RAII pattern or a callback, there is always some kind of dynamic “scope” associated with the thing you are doing. If you are using a callback, that scope is quite explicit: you will invoke the callback, and the scope corresponds to the time while that callback is executing. Once the callback returns, the scope is over, and you are back in control.

With RAII, the scope is open-ended. You are returning a value to your caller that has a destructor – this means that the scope lasts until your caller chooses to dispose of that value, which may well be never (particularly since they could leak it). That is why I say RAII is more flexible: it gives the caller control over the scope of the operation. Concretely, this means that the caller can return the RAII value up to their caller, store it in a hashmap, whatever.

But that control also comes at a cost to you. For example, if you have resources that have to live for the entire “scope” of the operation you are performing, and you are using a callback, you can easily leverage the stack to achieve this. Those resources just live on your stack frame – and so naturally they are live when you call the callback, and remain live until the callback returns. But if you are using RAII, you have to push ownership of those resources into the value that you will return. This in turn can make borrowing and sharing harder.

So, in short, if you can align the scopes of your program with callbacks and the stack frame, everthing works out more easily, but you lose some flexibility on the part of your callers (and you incur some rightward drift). Whether that is ok will depend on the context – in the case of Rayon, it’s perfectly fine. The real user is just calling sum, and they have to block until sum returns anyway to get the result. So it’s no problem if sum internally uses a callback to phase the parallel operation. But in other contexts the requirements may be different.

What’s to come

I plan to write up a third blog post, about parallel consumers, in the not too distant future. But I might take a break for a bit, because I have a bunch of other half-finished posts I want to write up, covering topics like specialization, the borrow checker, and a nascent grammar for Rust using LALRPOP.