Do Data Parallel Threading#


In this example, we show how to do an operation on data across multiple threads to take advantage of multi-core processors.

In this example we have an enum of central nervous system cell types, a std::vector< CELL_TYPE > that contains the cells that we have encountered, and we want to count how many we have of each CELL_TYPE.



Result of the multi-threaded cell count:
      NEURON:          3
      ASTROCYTE:       5
Result of the single-threaded cell count:
      NEURON:          3
      ASTROCYTE:       5



#include "itkDomainThreader.h"
#include "itkThreadedIndexedContainerPartitioner.h"

// We have central nervous system cells of different types.

// Type to hold our list of cells to count.
using CellContainerType = std::vector<CELL_TYPE>;
// Type to hold the count for each CELL_TYPE.
using CellCountType = std::map<CELL_TYPE, unsigned int>;

// This class performs the multi-threaded cell type counting for the
// CellCounter class, show below.  The CellCounter class is the TAssociate, and
// since this class is declared as a friend, it can access the CellCounter's
// private members to compute the cell type count for the CellCounter.
// While the threading class can access its associate's private members, it
// generally should only do so in a read-only manner.  Otherwise, attempting to
// write to the same member from multiple threads will cause race conditions
// and result in erroreous output or crash the program.  For this reason, the
// threading class contains its own data structures that can be written to in
// individual threads.  These data structures are set up in the
// BeforeThreadedExecution method, and the results contained in each data
// structure are collected in AfterThreadedExecution.  In this case, we have
// m_CellCountPerThread whose counts are initialized to zero in
// BeforeThreadedExecution and collected together in AfterThreadedExecution.
// All members and methods related to the multi-threaded computation are
// encapsulated in this class.
// The class inherits from itk::DomainThreader, which provides common
// functionality and defines the stages of the multi-threaded operation.
// The itk::DomainThreader is templated over the type of DomainPartitioner used
// to split up the domain, and type of the associated class.  The domain in
// this case is a range of indices of a std::vector< CELL_TYPE > to process, so
// we use a ThreadedIndexedContainerPartitioner.  Other options for a domains
// defined as an iterator range or an image region are the
// ThreadedIteratorRangePartitioner and the ThreadedImageRegionPartitioner,
// respectively.

template <class TAssociate>
class ComputeCellCountThreader : public itk::DomainThreader<itk::ThreadedIndexedContainerPartitioner, TAssociate>
  // Standard ITK type alias.
  using Self = ComputeCellCountThreader;
  using Superclass = itk::DomainThreader<itk::ThreadedIndexedContainerPartitioner, TAssociate>;
  using Pointer = itk::SmartPointer<Self>;
  using ConstPointer = itk::SmartPointer<const Self>;

  // The domain is an index range.
  using DomainType = typename Superclass::DomainType;

  // This creates the ::New() method for instantiating the class.

  // We need a constructor for the itkNewMacro.
  ComputeCellCountThreader() = default;

  BeforeThreadedExecution() override
    // Reset the counts for all cell types to zero.
    this->m_Associate->m_CellCount[NEURON] = 0;
    this->m_Associate->m_CellCount[ASTROCYTE] = 0;
    this->m_Associate->m_CellCount[OLIGODENDROCYTE] = 0;

    // Resize our per-thread data structures to the number of threads that we
    // are actually going to use.  At this point the number of threads that
    // will be used have already been calculated and are available.  The number
    // of threads used depends on the number of cores or processors available
    // on the current system.  It will also be truncated if, for example, the
    // number of cells in the CellContainer is smaller than the number of cores
    // available.
    const itk::ThreadIdType numberOfThreads = this->GetNumberOfWorkUnitsUsed();
    for (itk::ThreadIdType ii = 0; ii < numberOfThreads; ++ii)
      this->m_CellCountPerThread[ii][NEURON] = 0;
      this->m_CellCountPerThread[ii][ASTROCYTE] = 0;
      this->m_CellCountPerThread[ii][OLIGODENDROCYTE] = 0;

  ThreadedExecution(const DomainType & subDomain, const itk::ThreadIdType threadId) override
    // Look only at the range of cells by the set of indices in the subDomain.
    for (itk::IndexValueType ii = subDomain[0]; ii <= subDomain[1]; ++ii)
      switch (this->m_Associate->m_Cells[ii])
        case NEURON:
          // Accumulate in the per thread cell count.
        case ASTROCYTE:

  AfterThreadedExecution() override
    // Accumulate the cell counts per thread in the associate's total cell
    // count.
    const itk::ThreadIdType numberOfThreads = this->GetNumberOfWorkUnitsUsed();
    for (itk::ThreadIdType ii = 0; ii < numberOfThreads; ++ii)
      this->m_Associate->m_CellCount[NEURON] += this->m_CellCountPerThread[ii][NEURON];

      this->m_Associate->m_CellCount[ASTROCYTE] += this->m_CellCountPerThread[ii][ASTROCYTE];

      this->m_Associate->m_CellCount[OLIGODENDROCYTE] += this->m_CellCountPerThread[ii][OLIGODENDROCYTE];

  std::vector<CellCountType> m_CellCountPerThread;

// A class to count the cells.
class CellCounter
  using Self = CellCounter;

  using ComputeCellCountThreaderType = ComputeCellCountThreader<Self>;

  // Constructor.  Create our Threader class instance.
  CellCounter() { this->m_ComputeCellCountThreader = ComputeCellCountThreaderType::New(); }

  // Set the cells we want to count.
  SetCells(const CellContainerType & cells)
    for (size_t ii = 0; ii < cells.size(); ++ii)
      this->m_Cells[ii] = cells[ii];

  // Count the cells and return the count of each type.
  const CellCountType &
    ComputeCellCountThreaderType::DomainType completeDomain;
    completeDomain[0] = 0;
    completeDomain[1] = this->m_Cells.size() - 1;
    this->m_ComputeCellCountThreader->Execute(this, completeDomain);
    return this->m_CellCount;

  // Stores the count of each type of cell.
  CellCountType m_CellCount;
  // Stores the cells to count.
  CellContainerType m_Cells;

  // The ComputeCellCountThreader gets to access m_CellCount and m_Cells as
  // needed.
  friend class ComputeCellCountThreader<Self>;
  ComputeCellCountThreaderType::Pointer m_ComputeCellCountThreader;

  // Our cells.
                                        NEURON, NEURON,    ASTROCYTE, ASTROCYTE,       OLIGODENDROCYTE };

  CellContainerType cells(cellsArr, cellsArr + sizeof(cellsArr) / sizeof(cellsArr[0]));

  // Count them in a multi-threader way.
  CellCounter cellCounter;
  const CellCountType multiThreadedCellCount = cellCounter.ComputeCellCount();
  std::cout << "Result of the multi-threaded cell count:\n";
  std::cout << "\tNEURON:          " << (*multiThreadedCellCount.find(NEURON)).second << "\n";
  std::cout << "\tASTROCYTE:       " << (*multiThreadedCellCount.find(ASTROCYTE)).second << "\n";
  std::cout << "\tOLIGODENDROCYTE: " << (*multiThreadedCellCount.find(OLIGODENDROCYTE)).second << "\n";

  // Count them in a single-threaded way.
  CellCountType singleThreadedCellCount;
  singleThreadedCellCount[NEURON] = 0;
  singleThreadedCellCount[ASTROCYTE] = 0;
  singleThreadedCellCount[OLIGODENDROCYTE] = 0;
  for (auto & cell : cells)
    switch (cell)
      case NEURON:
        // Accumulate in the per thread cell count.
      case ASTROCYTE:
  std::cout << "Result of the single-threaded cell count:\n";
  std::cout << "\tNEURON:          " << (*singleThreadedCellCount.find(NEURON)).second << "\n";
  std::cout << "\tASTROCYTE:       " << (*singleThreadedCellCount.find(ASTROCYTE)).second << "\n";
  std::cout << "\tOLIGODENDROCYTE: " << (*singleThreadedCellCount.find(OLIGODENDROCYTE)).second << "\n";

  // Did we get what was expected?  It is always good to check a multi-threaded
  // implementation against a single-threaded implementation to ensure that it
  // gets the same results.
  if ((*multiThreadedCellCount.find(NEURON)).second != singleThreadedCellCount[NEURON] ||
      (*multiThreadedCellCount.find(ASTROCYTE)).second != singleThreadedCellCount[ASTROCYTE] ||
      (*multiThreadedCellCount.find(OLIGODENDROCYTE)).second != singleThreadedCellCount[OLIGODENDROCYTE])
    std::cerr << "Error: did not get the same results"
              << "for a single-threaded and multi-threaded calculation." << std::endl;
    return EXIT_FAILURE;

  return EXIT_SUCCESS;

Classes demonstrated#

template<typename TDomainPartitioner, typename TAssociate>
class DomainThreader : public itk::Object

Multi-threaded processing on a domain by processing sub-domains per thread.

This class uses a ThreadedDomainPartitioner as a helper to split the domain into subdomains. Each subdomain is then processed in the ThreadedExecution method.

The data on which to perform the processing is assumed to be members of an associating class. Therefore, to perform a threaded operation in a class, the associating class usually will declare derived versions of this class as a friend class.

To use this class, at a minimum,

  • Inherit from it.

  • Implement ThreadedExecution.

  • Create a member instance.

  • Run with m_DomainThreader->Execute( this, domain );

If a ‘threaded method’ is desired to perform some data processing in a class, a derived version of this class can be defined to perform the threaded operation. Since a threaded operation is relatively complex compared to a simple serial operation, a class instead of a simple method is required. Inside this class, the method to partition the data is handled, the logic for deciding the number of work units is determined, and operations surrounding the threading are encapsulated into the class with the

DetermineNumberOfWorkUnitsToUse, BeforeThreadedExecution, ThreadedExecution, and AfterThreadedExecution virtual methods.

Template Parameters
  • TDomainPartitioner: A class that inherits from ThreadedDomainPartitioner.

  • TAssociate: The associated class that uses a derived version of this class as a “threaded method”. The associated class usually declares derived version of this class as nested classes so there is easy access to its protected and private members in ThreadedExecution.

See itk::DomainThreader for additional documentation.