7.7 Thread Cancellation
Consider a simple program to evaluate a set of positions in a chess game. Assume that there are k moves, each being evaluated by an independent thread. If at any point of time, a position is established to be of a certain quality, the other positions that are known to be of worse quality must stop being evaluated. In other words, the threads evaluating the corresponding board positions must be canceled. Posix threads provide this cancellation feature in the function pthread_cancel. The prototype of this function is:
1 int 2 pthread_cancel ( 3 pthread_t thread);
Here, thread is the handle to the thread to be canceled. A thread may cancel itself or cancel other threads. When a call to this function is made, a cancellation is sent to the specified thread. It is not guaranteed that the specified thread will receive or act on the cancellation. Threads can protect themselves against cancellation. When a cancellation is actually performed, cleanup functions are invoked for reclaiming the thread data structures. After this the thread is canceled. This process is similar to termination of a thread using the pthread_exit call. This is performed independently of the thread that made the original request for cancellation. The pthread_cancel function returns after a cancellation has been sent. The cancellation may itself be performed later. The function returns a 0 on successful completion. This does not imply that the requested thread has been canceled; it implies that the specified thread is a valid thread for cancellation.