Advanced Usage


A Pypeln pipeline has the following structure:


  • Its composed of several concurrent stages
  • At each stage it contains on or more worker entities that perform a task.
  • Related stages are connected by a queue, workers from one stage put items into it, and workers from the other stage get items from it.
  • Source stages consume iterables.
  • Sink stages can be converted into iterables which consume them.

Stage Types

Pypeln has 3 types of stages, each stage has an associated worker and queue types:

Stage Type Worker Queue
pl.process.Stage multiprocessing.Process multiprocessing.Queue
pl.thread.Stage threading.Thread queue.Queue
pl.task.Stage asyncio.Task asyncio.Queue

Depending on the type of stage you use the following characteristics will vary: memory management, concurrency, parallelism, inter-stage communication overhead, worker initialization overhead:

Stage Type Memory Concurrency Parallelism Communication Overhead Initialization Overhead
process independent cpu + IO cpu + IO high high
thread shared only for IO only for IO none mid
task shared optimized IO optimized IO none low


Stages are lazy iterable objects that only contain meta information about the computation, to actually execute a pipeline you can iterate over it using a for loop, calling list, pl.<module>.run, etc. For example:

import pypeln as pl
import time
from random import random

def slow_add1(x):
    time.sleep(random()) # <= some slow computation
    return x + 1

data = range(10) # [0, 1, 2, ..., 9]
stage =, data, workers=3, maxsize=4)

for x in stage:
    print(x) # e.g. 2, 1, 5, 6, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10

This example uses pl.process but it works the same for all the other modules. Since pypeln implements the Iterable interface it becomes very intuitive to use and compatible with most other python code.


Each Stage defines a number of workers which can usually be controlled by the workers parameter on pypeln's various functions. In general try not to create more workers than the number of cores you have on your machine or else they will end up fighting for resources, but this varies with the type of worker. The following table shows the relative cost in memory + cpu usage of creating each worker:

Worker Memory + CPU Cost
Process high
Thread mid
Task low

General guidelines:

  • Only use processes when you need to perform heavy CPU operations in pararallel such as image processing, data transformations, etc. When forking a Process all the memory is copied to the new process, intialization is slow, communications between processes is costly since python objects have to be serialized, but you effectly escape the GIL so you gain true parallelism.
  • Threads are very good for doing syncronous IO tasks such as interacting with the OS and libraries that yet don't expose a async API.
  • Tasks are highly optimized for asynchronous IO operations, they are super cheap to create since they are just regular python objects, and you can generally create them in higher quantities since the event loop manages them efficiently for you.


Worker communicate between each other through Queues. The maximum number of elements each Queue can hold is controlled by the maxsize parameter in pypeln's various functions. By default this number is 0 which means there is no limit to the number of elements, however when maxsize is set it serves as a backpressure mechanism that prevents previous stages from pushing new elements to a Queue when it becomes full (reaches its maxsize), these stages will stop their computation until space becomes available thus potentially preveting OutOfMemeory errors on the slower stages.

The following table shows the relative communication cost between workers given the nature of their queues:

Worker Communication Cost
Process high
Thread none
Task none

General guidelines:

  • Communication between processes is costly since python objects have to be serialized, which has a considerable overhead when passing large objects such as numpy arrays, binary objects, etc. To avoid this overhead try only passing metadata information such as filepaths between processes.
  • There is no overhead in communication between threads or tasks, since everything happens in-memory there is no serialization overhead.

Resource Management

There are many occasions where you need to create some resource objects (e.g. http or database sessions) that (for efficiency) are expected to last the whole span of each worker's life. To support and effectily manage the lifecycle of such objects most of pypelns functions accept the on_start and on_done callbacks.

When a worker is created its on_start function get called. This function can return a dictionary containing these resource objects which can be consumed as arguments (by name) on the f and on_end functions. For exmaple:

import pypeln as pl

def on_start():
    return dict(
        http_session = get_http_session(), 
        db_session = get_db_session(),

def f(x, http_session, db_session):
    # some logic
    return y

def on_end(http_session, db_session):

stage =, stage, workers=3, on_start=on_start, on_end=on_end)

Dependency Injection

Special Arguments

  • worker_info: f, on_start and on_done can define a worker_info argument; an object with information about the worker will be passed.
  • stage_status: on_end can define a stage_status argument; an object with information about the stage will be passed.
  • element_index: f can define a element_index argument; a tuple representing the index of the element will be passed, this index represents the order of creation of the element on the original/source iterable and is the underlying mechanism by which the ordered operation is implemented. Usually it will be a tuple of a single element, but operations like flat_map add an additional index dimension in order to properly keep track of the order.

User Defined

Any element in the dictionary returned by on_start can be consumed as an argument by f and on_done.

Pipe Operator

Most functions can return a Partial instead of a Stage if the stage argument is not given. These Partials are callables that accept the missing stage parameter and call the computation. The following expressions are equivalent:, stage, **kwargs) <=>, **kwargs)(stage)

Partial implements the pipe | operator as

x | partial <=> partial(x)

This allows pypeln to enable you to define your pipelines more fluently:

from pypeln import process as pr

data = (
    |, workers=3, maxsize=4)
    | pl.process.filter(slow_gt3, workers=2)
    | list