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About Rado Buransky

Scala for-comprehension with concurrently running futures

Can you tell what’s the difference between the following two? If yes, then you’re great and you don’t need to read further.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Version 1:

val milkFuture = future { getMilk() }
val flourFuture = future { getFlour() }

for {
  milk <- milkFuture
  flour <- flourFuture
} yield (milk + flour)

Version 2:

for {
  milk <- future { getMilk() }
  flour <- future { getFlour() }
} yield (milk + flour)

You are at least curious if you got here. The difference is that the two futures in version 1 (can possibly) run in parallel, but in version 2 they can not. Function getFlour() is executed only after getMilk() is completed.

In the first version both futures are created before they are used in the for-comprehension. Once they exists it’s only up to execution context when they run, but nothing prevents them to be executed. I am trying not to say that they for sure run in parallel becuase that depends on many factors like thread pool size, execution time, etc. But the point is that they can run in parallel.

The second version looks very similar, but the problem is that the “getFlour()” future is created only once the “getMilk()” future is already completed. Therefore the two futures can never run concurrently no matter what. Don’t forget that the for-comprehension is just a syntactic sugar for methods “map”, “flatMap” and “withFilter”. There’s no magic behind.

That’s all folks. Happy futures to you.

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