How to: Listen for Cancellation Requests by Polling

The following example shows one way that user code can poll a cancellation token at regular intervals to see whether cancellation has been requested from the calling thread. This example uses the System.Threading.Tasks.Task type, but the same pattern applies to asynchronous operations created directly by the System.Threading.ThreadPool type or the System.Threading.Thread type.

Example

Polling requires some kind of loop or recursive code that can periodically read the value of the Boolean IsCancellationRequested property. If you are using the System.Threading.Tasks.Task type and you are waiting for the task to complete on the calling thread, you can use the ThrowIfCancellationRequested method to check the property and throw the exception. By using this method, you ensure that the correct exception is thrown in response to a request. If you are using a Task, then calling this method is better than manually throwing an OperationCanceledException. If you do not have to throw the exception, then you can just check the property and return from the method if the property is true.

using System;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public struct Rectangle
{
   public int columns;
   public int rows;
}

class CancelByPolling
{
   static void Main()
   {
      var tokenSource = new CancellationTokenSource();
      // Toy object for demo purposes
      Rectangle rect = new Rectangle() { columns = 1000, rows = 500 };

      // Simple cancellation scenario #1. Calling thread does not wait
      // on the task to complete, and the user delegate simply returns
      // on cancellation request without throwing.
      Task.Run(() => NestedLoops(rect, tokenSource.Token), tokenSource.Token);

      // Simple cancellation scenario #2. Calling thread does not wait
      // on the task to complete, and the user delegate throws
      // OperationCanceledException to shut down task and transition its state.
      // Task.Run(() => PollByTimeSpan(tokenSource.Token), tokenSource.Token);

      Console.WriteLine("Press 'c' to cancel");
      if (Console.ReadKey(true).KeyChar == 'c') {
          tokenSource.Cancel();
          Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
      }

      Console.ReadKey();
      tokenSource.Dispose();
  }

   static void NestedLoops(Rectangle rect, CancellationToken token)
   {
      for (int x = 0; x < rect.columns && !token.IsCancellationRequested; x++) {
         for (int y = 0; y < rect.rows; y++) {
            // Simulating work.
            Thread.SpinWait(5000);
            Console.Write("{0},{1} ", x, y);
         }

         // Assume that we know that the inner loop is very fast.
         // Therefore, checking once per row is sufficient.
         if (token.IsCancellationRequested) {
            // Cleanup or undo here if necessary...
            Console.WriteLine("\r\nCancelling after row {0}.", x);
            Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
            // then...
            break;
            // ...or, if using Task:
            // token.ThrowIfCancellationRequested();
         }
      }
   }
}
Imports System.Threading
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Public Structure Rectangle
    Public columns As Integer
    Public rows As Integer
End Structure

Class CancelByPolling
    Shared Sub Main()
        Dim tokenSource As New CancellationTokenSource()
        ' Toy object for demo purposes
        Dim rect As New Rectangle()
        rect.columns = 1000
        rect.rows = 500

        ' Simple cancellation scenario #1. Calling thread does not wait
        ' on the task to complete, and the user delegate simply returns
        ' on cancellation request without throwing.
        Task.Run(Sub() NestedLoops(rect, tokenSource.Token), tokenSource.Token)

        ' Simple cancellation scenario #2. Calling thread does not wait
        ' on the task to complete, and the user delegate throws 
        ' OperationCanceledException to shut down task and transition its state.
        ' Task.Run(Sub() PollByTimeSpan(tokenSource.Token), tokenSource.Token)

        Console.WriteLine("Press 'c' to cancel")
        If Console.ReadKey(True).KeyChar = "c"c Then

            tokenSource.Cancel()
            Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.")
        End If

        Console.ReadKey()
        tokenSource.Dispose()
    End Sub

    Shared Sub NestedLoops(ByVal rect As Rectangle, ByVal token As CancellationToken)
        For x As Integer = 0 To rect.columns
            For y As Integer = 0 To rect.rows
                ' Simulating work.
                Thread.SpinWait(5000)
                Console.Write("0' end block,1' end block ", x, y)
            Next

            ' Assume that we know that the inner loop is very fast.
            ' Therefore, checking once per row is sufficient.
            If token.IsCancellationRequested = True Then
                ' Cleanup or undo here if necessary...
                Console.WriteLine(vbCrLf + "Cancelling after row 0' end block.", x)
                Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.")
                ' then...
                Exit For
                ' ...or, if using Task:
                ' token.ThrowIfCancellationRequested()
            End If
        Next
    End Sub
End Class

Calling ThrowIfCancellationRequested is extremely fast and does not introduce significant overhead in loops.

If you are calling ThrowIfCancellationRequested, you only have to explicitly check the IsCancellationRequested property if you have other work to do in response to the cancellation besides throwing the exception. In this example, you can see that the code actually accesses the property twice: once in the explicit access and again in the ThrowIfCancellationRequested method. But because the act of reading the IsCancellationRequested property involves only one volatile read instruction per access, the double access is not significant from a performance perspective. It is still preferable to call the method rather than manually throw the OperationCanceledException.

See Also

Cancellation in Managed Threads