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IDProjectCategoryView StatusDate SubmittedLast Update
0005908OCamlstandard librarypublic2013-01-27 17:192013-01-28 09:56
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PrioritynormalSeverityfeatureReproducibilityhave not tried
PlatformOSOS Version
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Target VersionFixed in Version 
Summary0005908: Add a timeout function to the standard library

I have tried to program a "timeout" function in a *portable* way but did not succeed with the current standard library. Since this is quite a commonly used idiom, it might be worth adding such a function to the standard library.

I wanted a "timeout" function of type:

float -> ('a -> 'b) -> 'a -> 'b option

which takes a maximum number n of seconds to run, a function f, an argument x, and returns Some (f x) if the computation ends before n seconds and None otherwise. I have tried the following:
- the simple implementation using Unix.setitimer / Unix.alarm does not work under windows because of signals implementation
- the caml-list suggested using Gc.create_alarm which is portable, but really imprecise (we cannot predict when a gc will occur)
- I could have used threads and Thread.kill, but unfortunately Thread.kill is not implemented with the native compiler
- this could be achieved with monadic threads, but I would rather not change the structure of my whole program

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xleroy (administrator)
2013-01-28 09:56

The bottom line of the discussion on caml-list is that such a "timeout" function cannot be implemented correctly on non-Unix platforms, esp. Windows, but also JS-of-OCaml. So, probably, what you're asking for is impossible.

There might be a way to partially emulate Unix.setitimer under Windows, creating a separate thread that posts pseudo-signals periodically. However, such pseudo-signals will not interrupt blocking I/O operations and will only be processed when the OCaml code polls for pending signals. This might be good enough for some applications, but certainly not all.

- Issue History
Date Modified Username Field Change
2013-01-27 17:19 smimram New Issue
2013-01-28 09:56 xleroy Note Added: 0008806
2013-01-28 09:56 xleroy Status new => resolved
2013-01-28 09:56 xleroy Resolution open => suspended
2017-02-23 16:43 doligez Category OCaml standard library => standard library

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