World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Interprocess Communication

Article Id: WHEBN0001121635
Reproduction Date:

Title: Interprocess Communication  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: W. Richard Stevens, PROIV, Mmap
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Interprocess Communication

For other uses, see IPC.

In computing, inter-process communication (IPC) is a set of methods for the exchange of data among multiple threads in one or more processes. Processes may be running on one or more computers connected by a network. IPC methods are divided into methods for message passing, synchronization, shared memory, and remote procedure calls (RPC). The method of IPC used may vary based on the bandwidth and latency of communication between the threads, and the type of data being communicated.

There are several reasons for providing an environment that allows process cooperation:

IPC may also be referred to as inter-thread communication and inter-application communication.

The combination of IPC with the address space concept is the foundation for address space independence/isolation.[1]

Main IPC methods

Method Short Description Provided by (operating systems or other environments)
File A record stored on disk that can be accessed by name by any process Most operating systems
Signal A system message sent from one process to another, not usually used to store information but instead give commands. Most operating systems; some systems, such as Win NT subsystem, implement signals in only the C run-time library and provide no support for their use as an IPC method . But other subsystems like the POSIX subsystem provided by default until windows 2000. Then available with interix in XP/2003 then with « windows services for UNIX » (SFU).
Socket A data stream sent over a network interface, either to a different process on the same computer or to another computer Most operating systems
Message queue An anonymous data stream similar to the pipe, but stores and retrieves information in packets. Most operating systems
Pipe A two-way data stream interfaced through standard input and output and is read character by character. All POSIX systems, Windows
Named pipe A pipe implemented through a file on the file system instead of standard input and output. All POSIX systems, Windows
Semaphore A simple structure that synchronizes threads or processes acting on shared resources. All POSIX systems, Windows
Shared memory Multiple processes given access to the same memory, allowing all to change it and read changes made by other processes. All POSIX systems, Windows
Message passing (shared nothing) Similar to the message queue. Used in MPI paradigm, Java RMI, CORBA, DDS, MSMQ, MailSlots, QNX, others
Memory-mapped file A file mapped to RAM and can be modified by changing memory addresses directly instead of outputting to a stream, shares same benefits as a standard file. All POSIX systems, Windows


There are several APIs which may be used for IPC. A number of platform independent APIs include the following:

The following are platform or programming language specific APIs:

See also


  • Stevens, Richard. UNIX Network Programming, Volume 2, Second Edition: Interprocess Communications. Prentice Hall, 1999. ISBN 0-13-081081-9
  • U. Ramachandran, M. Solomon, M. Vernon ISBN 0-8186-0776-9
  • Crovella, M. Bianchini, R. LeBlanc, T. Markatos, E. Wisniewski, R. ISBN 0-8186-3200-3

External links

  • Linux ipc(5) man page describing System V IPC
  • Windows IPC
  • Beej's Guide to Unix IPC
  • Unix Network Programming (Vol 2: Interprocess Communications) by W. Richard Stevens
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.