Get a Return Value From a Thread in Python

Get a Return Value From a Thread in Python

  1. HelloWorld Program Using Multi-Threading in Python
  2. Get a Return Value From a Function Running in Thread in Python

This article will first discuss thread basics and a code for starting a thread in Python. After this, we will discuss a code to get the value return from a function running in a thread.

A thread is a lightweight execution unit within a process with its own program execution states. A process runs multiple threads to achieve concurrency (and sometimes parallelism).

The main difference between a process and a thread is that each process has a separate disjoint address space, while multiple threads of the same process share the same address space of a single process. This means the threads can communicate using the shared memory without requiring additional pipes (Ordinary pipes or FIFOs) or any message passing interface.

HelloWorld Program Using Multi-Threading in Python

Consider the following code:

from threading import Thread

# A function for threads.
def first_function():
    print('Hello World')

print ("main program start")

thread_1 = Thread(target=first_function)
thread_2 = Thread(target=first_function)
thread_1.start()
thread_2.start()

print ("main ends")

In the above code, first, we used the from threading import Thread statement to import the Thread class to use the multi-threading. We defined a function first_function() which displays Hello World, and used the Thread() class to instantiate the threads.

We created two instances of the Thread() class by passing the first_function() as a target function to run. The target attribute specifies the function to be executed by the Thread().

Once the Thread() instances are created, we can run and execute these threads using the .start() method.

Pass Arguments to a Function Running in Thread

Consider the following code:

from threading import Thread

def first_function(name, id):
    print('Hello World from ', name, " ID= ", id)

thread_1 = Thread(target=first_function, args=("Thread 1", 1))
thread_2 = Thread(target=first_function, args=("Thread 2", 2))
thread_1.start()
thread_2.start()

In the above code, we defined the function first_function(name, id), receiving two arguments, name and id. We passed these arguments as a tuple using args in the Thread class.

We created two Thread class objects and passed the arguments args=("Thread 1", 1) and args=("Thread 2", 2) to thread_1 and thread_2 respectively. Further, thread_1.start() and thread_2.start() are used to run these threads.

Get a Return Value From a Function Running in Thread in Python

There are different ways to get a return value from a function running in a thread.

Pass a Mutable Object to the Function

We can get a value from a function running in a thread by passing a mutable object to the function; the function places the return value in that object. Consider the following code:

from threading import Thread

def first_function(first_argu, return_val):
    print (first_argu)
    return_val [0] = "Return Value from " + first_argu

return_val_from_1= [None]*1
return_val_from_2= [None]*1

thread_1 = Thread(target=first_function, args=("Thread 1", return_val_from_1))
thread_2 = Thread(target=first_function, args=("Thread 2", return_val_from_2))

thread_1.start()
thread_2.start()

thread_1.join()
thread_2.join()

print (return_val_from_1)
print (return_val_from_2)

The above code defined a function first_function which receives two arguments: first_argu and return_val. The first_function display the value of first_argu and place the return value in the 0 indexes of return_val.

We create thread using Thread class and pass two arguments including a list args=("Thread 1", return_val_from_1) and args=("Thread 2", return_val_from_2) for thread_1 and thread_2 respectively. return_val_from_1 and return_val_from_2 are used to get value from the function.

thread_1.join() and thread_2.join() are used to wait for the main program to complete both threads.

Let’s look into the output for the above code snippet:

Python Threading Return Value - Output 1

Use the join Method

The join method is another way to get a return value from a function running in a thread. Consider the following code:

from threading import Thread

def first_function(first_argu):
    print (first_argu)
    return "Return Value from " + first_argu

class NewThread(Thread):
    def __init__(self, group=None, target=None, name=None,
                 args=(), kwargs={}):
        Thread.__init__(self, group, target, name, args, kwargs)
    def run(self):
        if self._target != None:
            self._return = self._target(*self._args, **self._kwargs)
    def join(self, *args):
        Thread.join(self, *args)
        return self._return

thread_1 = NewThread(target=first_function, args=("Thread 1", ))
thread_2 = NewThread(target=first_function, args=("Thread 2", ))

thread_1.start()
thread_2.start()

print (thread_1.join())
print (thread_2.join())

In the above code, we define a customized class, NewThread, a subclass of the Thread class. We redefine the run and join methods.

Once we create a thread and start, the return value from first_function is returned from the join() method.

The output of the following code is as follows:

Python Threading Return Value - Output 2

Related Article - Python Threading

  • Difference in Concurrency Aspects in Python
  • Multiprocessing vs Threading in Python
  • Difference Between Multiprocessing and Threading in Python
  • Timer Class in the Threading Module in Python
  • Python Threadpool