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Quantum Library : A scalable C++ coroutine framework

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Quantum is a full-featured and powerful C++ framework build on top of the Boost coroutine library. The framework allows users to dispatch units of work (a.k.a. tasks) as coroutines and execute them concurrently using the 'reactor' pattern.


  • NEW Added support for simpler V2 coroutine API which returns computed values directly.
  • Header-only library and interface-based design.
  • Full integration with Boost asymmetric coroutine library.
  • Highly parallelized coroutine framework for CPU-bound workloads.
  • Support for long-running or blocking IO tasks.
  • Allows explicit and implicit cooperative yielding between coroutines.
  • Task continuations and coroutine chaining for serializing work execution.
  • Synchronous and asynchronous dispatching using futures and promises similar to STL.
  • Support for streaming futures which allows faster processing of large data sets.
  • Support for future references.
  • Cascading execution output during task continuations (a.k.a. past futures).
  • Task prioritization.
  • Internal error handling and exception forwarding.
  • Ability to write lock-free code by synchronizing coroutines on dedicated queues.
  • Coroutine-friendly mutexes and condition variables for locking critical code paths or synchronizing access to external objects.
  • Fast pre-allocated memory pools for internal objects and coroutines.
  • Parallel forEach and mapReduce functions.
  • Various stats API.
  • Sequencer class allowing strict FIFO ordering of tasks based on sequence ids.

Sample code

Quantum is very simple and easy to use:

using namespace Bloomberg::quantum;

// Define a coroutine
int getDummyValue(CoroContextPtr<int> ctx)
    int value;
    ...           //do some work
    ctx->yield(); //be nice and let other coroutines run (optional cooperation)
    ...           //do more work and calculate 'value'
    return ctx->set(value);

// Create a dispatcher
Dispatcher dispatcher;

// Dispatch a work item to do some work and return a value
int result =>get();

Chaining tasks can also be straightforward. In this example we produce various types in a sequence.

using namespace Bloomberg::quantum;

// Create a dispatcher
Dispatcher dispatcher;

auto ctx = dispatcher.postFirst([](CoroContextPtr<int> ctx)->int {
    return ctx->set(55); //Set the 1st value
})->then([](CoroContextPtr<double> ctx)->int {
    // Get the first value and add something to it
    return ctx->set(ctx->getPrev<int>() + 22.33); //Set the 2nd value
})->then([](CoroContextPtr<std::string> ctx)->int {
    return ctx->set("Hello world!"); //Set the 3rd value
})->finally([](CoroContextPtr<std::list<int>> ctx)->int {
    return ctx->set(std::list<int>{1,2,3}); //Set 4th value

int i = ctx->getAt<int>(0); //This will throw 'FutureAlreadyRetrievedException'
                            //since future was already read in the 2nd coroutine
double d = ctx->getAt<double>(1); //returns 77.33
std::string s = ctx->getAt<std::string>(2); //returns "Hello world!";
std::list<int>& listRef = ctx->getRefAt<std::list<int>>(3); //get list reference
std::list<int>& listRef2 = ctx->getRef(); //get another list reference.
                                          //The 'At' overload is optional for last chain future
std::list<int> listValue = ctx->get(); //get list value

Chaining with the new V2 api:

using namespace Bloomberg::quantum;

// Create a dispatcher
Dispatcher dispatcher;

auto ctx = dispatcher.postFirst([](VoidContextPtr ctx)->int {
    return 55; //Set the 1st value
})->then([](VoidContextPtr ctx)->double {
    // Get the first value and add something to it
    return ctx->getPrev<int>() + 22.33; //Set the 2nd value
})->then([](VoidContextPtr ctx)->std::string {
    return "Hello world!"; //Set the 3rd value
})->finally([](VoidContextPtr ctx)->std::list<int> {
    return {1,2,3}; //Set 4th value

Building and installing

Quantum is a header-only library and as such no targets need to be built. To install simply run:

> cmake -Bbuild <options> .
> cd build
> make install

CMake options

Various CMake options can be used to configure the output:

  • QUANTUM_BUILD_DOC : Build Doxygen documentation. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_ENABLE_DOT : Enable generation of DOT viewer files. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_VERBOSE_MAKEFILE : Enable verbose cmake output. Default ON.
  • QUANTUM_ENABLE_TESTS : Builds the tests target. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_BOOST_STATIC_LIBS: Link with Boost static libraries. Default ON.
  • QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_MULTITHREADED : Use Boost multi-threaded libraries. Default ON.
  • QUANTUM_USE_DEFAULT_ALLOCATOR : Use default system supplied allocator instead of Quantum's. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_ALLOCATE_POOL_FROM_HEAP : Pre-allocates object pools from heap instead of the application stack. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_SEGMENTED_STACKS : Use Boost segmented stacks for coroutines. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_PROTECTED_STACKS : Use Boost protected stacks for coroutines (slow!). Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_FIXEDSIZE_STACKS : Use Boost fixed size stacks for coroutines. Default OFF.
  • QUANTUM_INSTALL_ROOT : Specify custom install path. Default is /usr/local/include for Linux or c:/Program Files for Windows.
  • QUANTUM_PKGCONFIG_DIR : Specify custom install path for the quantum.pc file. Default is ${QUANTUM_INSTALL_ROOT}/share/pkgconfig. To specify a relative path from QUANTUM_INSTALL_ROOT, omit leading /.
  • QUANTUM_EXPORT_PKGCONFIG : Generate quantum.pc file. Default ON.
  • QUANTUM_CMAKE_CONFIG_DIR : Specify a different install directory for the project's config, target and version files. Default is ${QUANTUM_INSTALL_ROOT}/share/cmake.
  • QUANTUM_EXPORT_CMAKE_CONFIG : Generate CMake config, target and version files. Default ON.
  • BOOST_ROOT : Specify a different Boost install directory.
  • GTEST_ROOT : Specify a different GTest install directory.

Note: options must be preceded with -D when passed as arguments to CMake.

Running tests

Run the following from the top directory:

> cmake -Bbuild -DQUANTUM_ENABLE_TESTS=ON <options> .
> cd build
> make quantum_test && ctest


To use the library simply include <quantum/quantum.h> in your application. Also, the following libraries must be included in the link:

  • boost_context
  • pthread

Quantum library is fully is compatible with C++11, C++14 and C++17 language features. See compiler options below for more details.

Compiler options

The following compiler options can be set when building your application:

  • __QUANTUM_PRINT_DEBUG : Prints debug and error information to stdout and stderr respectively.
  • __QUANTUM_USE_DEFAULT_ALLOCATOR : Disable pool allocation for internal objects (other than coroutine stacks) and use default system allocators instead.
  • __QUANTUM_ALLOCATE_POOL_FROM_HEAP : Pre-allocates object pools from heap instead of the application stack (default). This affects internal object allocations other than coroutines. Coroutine pools are always heap-allocated due to their size.
  • __QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_SEGMENTED_STACKS : Uses boost segmented stack for on-demand coroutine stack growth. Note that Boost.Context library must be built with property segmented-stacks=on and applying BOOST_USE_UCONTEXT and BOOST_USE_SEGMENTED_STACKS at b2/bjam command line.
  • __QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_PROTECTED_STACKS : Uses boost protected stack for runtime bound-checking. When using this option, coroutine creation (but not runtime efficiency) becomes more expensive.
  • __QUANTUM_BOOST_USE_FIXEDSIZE_STACKS : Uses boost fixed size stack. This defaults to system default allocator.

Application-wide settings

Various application-wide settings can be configured via ThreadTraits, AllocatorTraits and StackTraits.


Please see the wiki page for a detailed overview of this library, use-case scenarios and examples.

For class description visit the API reference page.

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