Asynchronous Computation¶

This section is only relevant if you want to use time-based functionality. If you are only using operations like map and accumulate then you can safely skip this section.

When using time-based flow control like rate_limit, delay, or timed_window Streamz relies on the Tornado framework for concurrency. This allows us to handle many concurrent operations cheaply and consistently within a single thread. However, this also adds complexity and requires some understanding of asynchronous programming. There are a few different ways to use Streamz with a Tornado event loop.

We give a few examples below that all do the same thing, but with different styles. In each case we use the following toy functions:

from tornado import gen
import time

def increment(x):
""" A blocking increment function

Simulates a computational function that was not designed to work
asynchronously
"""
time.sleep(0.1)
return x + 1

@gen.coroutine
def write(x):
""" A non-blocking write function

Simulates writing to a database asynchronously
"""
yield gen.sleep(0.2)
print(x)


Within the Event Loop¶

You may have an application that runs strictly within an event loop.

from streamz import Stream

@gen.coroutine
def f():
source = Stream(asynchronous=True)  # tell the stream we're working asynchronously
source.map(increment).rate_limit(0.500).sink(write)

for x in range(10):
yield source.emit(x)

IOLoop().run_sync(f)


We call Stream with the asynchronous=True keyword, informing it that it should expect to operate within an event loop. This ensures that calls to emit return Tornado futures rather than block. We wait on results using yield.

yield source.emit(x)  # waits until the pipeline is ready


This would also work with async-await syntax in Python 3

from streamz import Stream

async def f():
source = Stream(asynchronous=True)  # tell the stream we're working asynchronously
source.map(increment).rate_limit(0.500).sink(write)

for x in range(10):
await source.emit(x)

IOLoop().run_sync(f)


Event Loop on a Separate Thread¶

Sometimes the event loop runs on a separate thread. This is common when you want to support interactive workloads (the user needs their own thread for interaction) or when using Dask (next section).

from streamz import Stream

source = Stream(asynchronous=False)  # starts IOLoop in separate thread
source.map(increment).rate_limit('500ms').sink(write)

for x in range(10):
source.emit(x)


In this case we pass asynchronous=False to inform the stream that it is expected to perform time-based computation (our write function is a coroutine) but that it should not expect to run in an event loop, and so needs to start its own in a separate thread. Now when we call source.emit normally without using yield or await the emit call blocks, waiting on a coroutine to finish within the IOLoop.

All functions here happen on the IOLoop. This is good for consistency, but can cause other concurrent applications to become unresponsive if your functions (like increment) block for long periods of time. You might address this by using Dask (see below) which will offload these computations onto separate threads or processes.

Dask is a parallel computing library that uses Tornado for concurrency and threads for computation. The DaskStream object is a drop-in replacement for Stream (mostly). Typically we create a Dask client, and then scatter a local Stream to become a DaskStream.

from dask.distributed import Client

from streamz import Stream
source = Stream()
(source.scatter()       # scatter local elements to cluster, creating a DaskStream
.map(increment)  # map a function remotely
.buffer(5)       # allow five futures to stay on the cluster at any time
.gather()        # bring results back to local process
.sink(write))    # call write locally

for x in range(10):
source.emit(x)


This operates very much like the synchronous case in terms of coding style (no @gen.coroutine or yield) but does computations on separate threads. This also provides parallelism and access to a dashboard at http://localhost:8787/status .

Dask can also operate within an event loop if preferred. Here you can get the non-blocking operation within an event loop while also offloading computations to separate threads.

from dask.distributed import Client