Processing single file from multiple processes

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Question :

Processing single file from multiple processes

I have a single big text file in which I want to process each line ( do some operations ) and store them in a database. Since a single simple program is taking too long, I want it to be done via multiple processes or threads.
Each thread/process should read the DIFFERENT data(different lines) from that single file and do some operations on their piece of data(lines) and put them in the database so that in the end, I have whole of the data processed and my database is dumped with the data I need.

But I am not able to figure it out that how to approach this.

Asked By: pranavk


Answer #1:

What you are looking for is a Producer/Consumer pattern

Basic threading example

Here is a basic example using the threading module (instead of multiprocessing)

import threading
import Queue
import sys

def do_work(in_queue, out_queue):
    while True:
        item = in_queue.get()
        # process
        result = item

if __name__ == "__main__":
    work = Queue.Queue()
    results = Queue.Queue()
    total = 20

    # start for workers
    for i in xrange(4):
        t = threading.Thread(target=do_work, args=(work, results))
        t.daemon = True

    # produce data
    for i in xrange(total):


    # get the results
    for i in xrange(total):
        print results.get()


You wouldn’t share the file object with the threads. You would produce work for them by supplying the queue with lines of data. Then each thread would pick up a line, process it, and then return it in the queue.

There are some more advanced facilities built into the multiprocessing module to share data, like lists and special kind of Queue. There are trade-offs to using multiprocessing vs threads and it depends on whether your work is cpu bound or IO bound.

Basic multiprocessing.Pool example

Here is a really basic example of a multiprocessing Pool

from multiprocessing import Pool

def process_line(line):
    return "FOO: %s" % line

if __name__ == "__main__":
    pool = Pool(4)
    with open('file.txt') as source_file:
        # chunk the work into batches of 4 lines at a time
        results =, source_file, 4)

    print results

A Pool is a convenience object that manages its own processes. Since an open file can iterate over its lines, you can pass it to the, which will loop over it and deliver lines to the worker function. Map blocks and returns the entire result when its done. Be aware that this is an overly simplified example, and that the is going to read your entire file into memory all at once before dishing out work. If you expect to have large files, keep this in mind. There are more advanced ways to design a producer/consumer setup.

Manual “pool” with limit and line re-sorting

This is a manual example of the, but instead of consuming an entire iterable in one go, you can set a queue size so that you are only feeding it piece by piece as fast as it can process. I also added the line numbers so that you can track them and refer to them if you want, later on.

from multiprocessing import Process, Manager
import time
import itertools 

def do_work(in_queue, out_list):
    while True:
        item = in_queue.get()
        line_no, line = item

        # exit signal 
        if line == None:

        # fake work
        result = (line_no, line)


if __name__ == "__main__":
    num_workers = 4

    manager = Manager()
    results = manager.list()
    work = manager.Queue(num_workers)

    # start for workers    
    pool = []
    for i in xrange(num_workers):
        p = Process(target=do_work, args=(work, results))

    # produce data
    with open("source.txt") as f:
        iters = itertools.chain(f, (None,)*num_workers)
        for num_and_line in enumerate(iters):

    for p in pool:

    # get the results
    # example:  [(1, "foo"), (10, "bar"), (0, "start")]
    print sorted(results)
Answered By: jdi

Answer #2:

Here’s a really stupid example that I cooked up:

import os.path
import multiprocessing

def newlinebefore(f,n):
    while c!='n' and n > 0:
    return n

filename='gpdata.dat'  #your filename goes here.
fsize=os.path.getsize(filename) #size of file (in bytes)

#break the file into 20 chunks for processing.

#You could also do something like:
#initial_chunks=range(1,fsize,max_chunk_size_in_bytes) #this should work too.

with open(filename,'r') as f:
    start_byte=sorted(set([newlinebefore(f,i) for i in initial_chunks]))

end_byte=[i-1 for i in start_byte] [1:] + [None]

def process_piece(filename,start,end):
    with open(filename,'r') as f:
        if(end is None):

    # process text here. createing some object to be returned
    # You could wrap text into a StringIO object if you want to be able to
    # read from it the way you would a file.

    return returnobj

def wrapper(args):
    return process_piece(*args)



#Now take your results and write them to the database.
print "".join(result)  #I just print it to make sure I get my file back ...

The tricky part here is to make sure that we split the file on newline characters so that you don’t miss any lines (or only read partial lines). Then, each process reads it’s part of the file and returns an object which can be put into the database by the main thread. Of course, you may even need to do this part in chunks so that you don’t have to keep all of the information in memory at once. (this is quite easily accomplished — just split the “args” list into X chunks and call,chunk) — See here)

Answered By: mgilson

Answer #3:

well break the single big file into multiple smaller files and have each of them processed in separate threads.

Answered By: Tanu

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