How to get the return value from a thread in python?


Question

The function foo below returns a string 'foo'. How can I get the value 'foo' which is returned from the thread's target?

from threading import Thread

def foo(bar):
    print('hello {}'.format(bar))
    return 'foo'

thread = Thread(target=foo, args=('world!',))
thread.start()
return_value = thread.join()

The "one obvious way to do it", shown above, doesn't work: thread.join() returned None.

1
271
5/5/2019 5:16:11 PM

Accepted Answer

FWIW, the multiprocessing module has a nice interface for this using the Pool class. And if you want to stick with threads rather than processes, you can just use the multiprocessing.pool.ThreadPool class as a drop-in replacement.

def foo(bar, baz):
  print 'hello {0}'.format(bar)
  return 'foo' + baz

from multiprocessing.pool import ThreadPool
pool = ThreadPool(processes=1)

async_result = pool.apply_async(foo, ('world', 'foo')) # tuple of args for foo

# do some other stuff in the main process

return_val = async_result.get()  # get the return value from your function.
249
3/30/2016 3:36:28 PM

One way I've seen is to pass a mutable object, such as a list or a dictionary, to the thread's constructor, along with a an index or other identifier of some sort. The thread can then store its results in its dedicated slot in that object. For example:

def foo(bar, result, index):
    print 'hello {0}'.format(bar)
    result[index] = "foo"

from threading import Thread

threads = [None] * 10
results = [None] * 10

for i in range(len(threads)):
    threads[i] = Thread(target=foo, args=('world!', results, i))
    threads[i].start()

# do some other stuff

for i in range(len(threads)):
    threads[i].join()

print " ".join(results)  # what sound does a metasyntactic locomotive make?

If you really want join() to return the return value of the called function, you can do this with a Thread subclass like the following:

from threading import Thread

def foo(bar):
    print 'hello {0}'.format(bar)
    return "foo"

class ThreadWithReturnValue(Thread):
    def __init__(self, group=None, target=None, name=None,
                 args=(), kwargs={}, Verbose=None):
        Thread.__init__(self, group, target, name, args, kwargs, Verbose)
        self._return = None
    def run(self):
        if self._Thread__target is not None:
            self._return = self._Thread__target(*self._Thread__args,
                                                **self._Thread__kwargs)
    def join(self):
        Thread.join(self)
        return self._return

twrv = ThreadWithReturnValue(target=foo, args=('world!',))

twrv.start()
print twrv.join()   # prints foo

That gets a little hairy because of some name mangling, and it accesses "private" data structures that are specific to Thread implementation... but it works.

For python3

class ThreadWithReturnValue(Thread):
    def __init__(self, group=None, target=None, name=None,
                 args=(), kwargs={}, Verbose=None):
        Thread.__init__(self, group, target, name, args, kwargs)
        self._return = None
    def run(self):
        print(type(self._target))
        if self._target is not None:
            self._return = self._target(*self._args,
                                                **self._kwargs)
    def join(self, *args):
        Thread.join(self, *args)
        return self._return

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