The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6
IEEE Std 1003.1, 2004 Edition
Copyright © 2001-2004 The IEEE and The Open Group, All Rights reserved.
A newer edition of this document exists here


pthread_join - wait for thread termination


[THR] [Option Start] #include <pthread.h>

int pthread_join(pthread_t
thread, void **value_ptr); [Option End]


The pthread_join() function shall suspend execution of the calling thread until the target thread terminates, unless the target thread has already terminated. On return from a successful pthread_join() call with a non-NULL value_ptr argument, the value passed to pthread_exit() by the terminating thread shall be made available in the location referenced by value_ptr. When a pthread_join() returns successfully, the target thread has been terminated. The results of multiple simultaneous calls to pthread_join() specifying the same target thread are undefined. If the thread calling pthread_join() is canceled, then the target thread shall not be detached.

It is unspecified whether a thread that has exited but remains unjoined counts against {PTHREAD_THREADS_MAX}.


If successful, the pthread_join() function shall return zero; otherwise, an error number shall be returned to indicate the error.


The pthread_join() function shall fail if:

No thread could be found corresponding to that specified by the given thread ID.

The pthread_join() function may fail if:

A deadlock was detected or the value of thread specifies the calling thread.
The value specified by thread does not refer to a joinable thread.

The pthread_join() function shall not return an error code of [EINTR].

The following sections are informative.


An example of thread creation and deletion follows:

typedef struct {
    int *ar;
    long n;
} subarray;

void * incer(void *arg) { long i;
for (i = 0; i < ((subarray *)arg)->n; i++) ((subarray *)arg)->ar[i]++; }
int main(void) { int ar[1000000]; pthread_t th1, th2; subarray sb1, sb2; = &ar[0]; sb1.n = 500000; (void) pthread_create(&th1, NULL, incer, &sb1); = &ar[500000]; sb2.n = 500000; (void) pthread_create(&th2, NULL, incer, &sb2);
(void) pthread_join(th1, NULL); (void) pthread_join(th2, NULL); return 0; }




The pthread_join() function is a convenience that has proven useful in multi-threaded applications. It is true that a programmer could simulate this function if it were not provided by passing extra state as part of the argument to the start_routine(). The terminating thread would set a flag to indicate termination and broadcast a condition that is part of that state; a joining thread would wait on that condition variable. While such a technique would allow a thread to wait on more complex conditions (for example, waiting for multiple threads to terminate), waiting on individual thread termination is considered widely useful. Also, including the pthread_join() function in no way precludes a programmer from coding such complex waits. Thus, while not a primitive, including pthread_join() in this volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 was considered valuable.

The pthread_join() function provides a simple mechanism allowing an application to wait for a thread to terminate. After the thread terminates, the application may then choose to clean up resources that were used by the thread. For instance, after pthread_join() returns, any application-provided stack storage could be reclaimed.

The pthread_join() or pthread_detach() function should eventually be called for every thread that is created with the detachstate attribute set to PTHREAD_CREATE_JOINABLE so that storage associated with the thread may be reclaimed.

The interaction between pthread_join() and cancellation is well-defined for the following reasons:

Thus, only the default cancelability state need be considered. As specified, either the pthread_join() call is canceled, or it succeeds, but not both. The difference is obvious to the application, since either a cancellation handler is run or pthread_join() returns. There are no race conditions since pthread_join() was called in the deferred cancelability state.




pthread_create(), wait(), the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <pthread.h>


First released in Issue 5. Included for alignment with the POSIX Threads Extension.

Issue 6

The pthread_join() function is marked as part of the Threads option.

IEEE Std 1003.1-2001/Cor 2-2004, XSH/TC2/D6/97 is applied, updating the ERRORS section so that the [EINVAL] error is made optional and the words ``the implementation has detected'' are removed from it.

End of informative text.

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