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PEP: 525
Title: Asynchronous Generators
Version: $Revision$
Last-Modified: $Date$
Author: Yury Selivanov <>
Discussions-To: <>
Status: Final
Type: Standards Track
Content-Type: text/x-rst
Created: 28-Jul-2016
Python-Version: 3.6
Post-History: 02-Aug-2016, 23-Aug-2016, 01-Sep-2016, 06-Sep-2016
PEP 492 introduced support for native coroutines and ``async``/``await``
syntax to Python 3.5. It is proposed here to extend Python's
asynchronous capabilities by adding support for
*asynchronous generators*.
Rationale and Goals
Regular generators (introduced in PEP 255) enabled an elegant way of
writing complex *data producers* and have them behave like an iterator.
However, currently there is no equivalent concept for the *asynchronous
iteration protocol* (``async for``). This makes writing asynchronous
data producers unnecessarily complex, as one must define a class that
implements ``__aiter__`` and ``__anext__`` to be able to use it in
an ``async for`` statement.
Essentially, the goals and rationale for PEP 255, applied to the
asynchronous execution case, hold true for this proposal as well.
Performance is an additional point for this proposal: in our testing of
the reference implementation, asynchronous generators are **2x** faster
than an equivalent implemented as an asynchronous iterator.
As an illustration of the code quality improvement, consider the
following class that prints numbers with a given delay once iterated::
class Ticker:
"""Yield numbers from 0 to `to` every `delay` seconds."""
def __init__(self, delay, to):
self.delay = delay
self.i = 0 = to
def __aiter__(self):
return self
async def __anext__(self):
i = self.i
if i >=
raise StopAsyncIteration
self.i += 1
if i:
await asyncio.sleep(self.delay)
return i
The same can be implemented as a much simpler asynchronous generator::
async def ticker(delay, to):
"""Yield numbers from 0 to `to` every `delay` seconds."""
for i in range(to):
yield i
await asyncio.sleep(delay)
This proposal introduces the concept of *asynchronous generators* to
This specification presumes knowledge of the implementation of
generators and coroutines in Python (PEP 342, PEP 380 and PEP 492).
Asynchronous Generators
A Python *generator* is any function containing one or more ``yield``
def func(): # a function
def genfunc(): # a generator function
We propose to use the same approach to define
*asynchronous generators*::
async def coro(): # a coroutine function
await smth()
async def asyncgen(): # an asynchronous generator function
await smth()
yield 42
The result of calling an *asynchronous generator function* is
an *asynchronous generator object*, which implements the asynchronous
iteration protocol defined in PEP 492.
It is a ``SyntaxError`` to have a non-empty ``return`` statement in an
asynchronous generator.
Support for Asynchronous Iteration Protocol
The protocol requires two special methods to be implemented:
1. An ``__aiter__`` method returning an *asynchronous iterator*.
2. An ``__anext__`` method returning an *awaitable* object, which uses
``StopIteration`` exception to "yield" values, and
``StopAsyncIteration`` exception to signal the end of the iteration.
Asynchronous generators define both of these methods. Let's manually
iterate over a simple asynchronous generator::
async def genfunc():
yield 1
yield 2
gen = genfunc()
assert gen.__aiter__() is gen
assert await gen.__anext__() == 1
assert await gen.__anext__() == 2
await gen.__anext__() # This line will raise StopAsyncIteration.
PEP 492 requires an event loop or a scheduler to run coroutines.
Because asynchronous generators are meant to be used from coroutines,
they also require an event loop to run and finalize them.
Asynchronous generators can have ``try..finally`` blocks, as well as
``async with``. It is important to provide a guarantee that, even
when partially iterated, and then garbage collected, generators can
be safely finalized. For example::
async def square_series(con, to):
async with con.transaction():
cursor = con.cursor(
'SELECT generate_series(0, $1) AS i', to)
async for row in cursor:
yield row['i'] ** 2
async for i in square_series(con, 1000):
if i == 100:
The above code defines an asynchronous generator that uses
``async with`` to iterate over a database cursor in a transaction.
The generator is then iterated over with ``async for``, which interrupts
the iteration at some point.
The ``square_series()`` generator will then be garbage collected,
and without a mechanism to asynchronously close the generator, Python
interpreter would not be able to do anything.
To solve this problem we propose to do the following:
1. Implement an ``aclose`` method on asynchronous generators
returning a special *awaitable*. When awaited it
throws a ``GeneratorExit`` into the suspended generator and
iterates over it until either a ``GeneratorExit`` or
a ``StopAsyncIteration`` occur.
This is very similar to what the ``close()`` method does to regular
Python generators, except that an event loop is required to execute
2. Raise a ``RuntimeError``, when an asynchronous generator executes
a ``yield`` expression in its ``finally`` block (using ``await``
is fine, though)::
async def gen():
await asyncio.sleep(1) # Can use 'await'.
yield # Cannot use 'yield',
# this line will trigger a
# RuntimeError.
3. Add two new methods to the ``sys`` module:
``set_asyncgen_hooks()`` and ``get_asyncgen_hooks()``.
The idea behind ``sys.set_asyncgen_hooks()`` is to allow event
loops to intercept asynchronous generators iteration and finalization,
so that the end user does not need to care about the finalization
problem, and everything just works.
``sys.set_asyncgen_hooks()`` accepts two arguments:
* ``firstiter``: a callable which will be called when an asynchronous
generator is iterated for the first time.
* ``finalizer``: a callable which will be called when an asynchronous
generator is about to be GCed.
When an asynchronous generator is iterated for the first time,
it stores a reference to the current *finalizer*.
When an asynchronous generator is about to be garbage collected,
it calls its cached *finalizer*. The assumption is that the finalizer
will schedule an ``aclose()`` call with the loop that was active
when the iteration started.
For instance, here is how asyncio is modified to allow safe
finalization of asynchronous generators::
# asyncio/
class BaseEventLoop:
def run_forever(self):
old_hooks = sys.get_asyncgen_hooks()
def _finalize_asyncgen(self, gen):
The second argument, ``firstiter``, allows event loops to maintain
a weak set of asynchronous generators instantiated under their control.
This makes it possible to implement "shutdown" mechanisms to safely
finalize all open generators and close the event loop.
``sys.set_asyncgen_hooks()`` is thread-specific, so several event
loops running in parallel threads can use it safely.
``sys.get_asyncgen_hooks()`` returns a namedtuple-like structure
with ``firstiter`` and ``finalizer`` fields.
The asyncio event loop will use ``sys.set_asyncgen_hooks()`` API to
maintain a weak set of all scheduled asynchronous generators, and to
schedule their ``aclose()`` coroutine methods when it is time for
generators to be GCed.
To make sure that asyncio programs can finalize all scheduled
asynchronous generators reliably, we propose to add a new event loop
coroutine method ``loop.shutdown_asyncgens()``. The method will
schedule all currently open asynchronous generators to close with an
``aclose()`` call.
After calling the ``loop.shutdown_asyncgens()`` method, the event loop
will issue a warning whenever a new asynchronous generator is iterated
for the first time. The idea is that after requesting all asynchronous
generators to be shutdown, the program should not execute code that
iterates over new asynchronous generators.
An example of how ``shutdown_asyncgens`` coroutine should be used::
Asynchronous Generator Object
The object is modeled after the standard Python generator object.
Essentially, the behaviour of asynchronous generators is designed
to replicate the behaviour of synchronous generators, with the only
difference in that the API is asynchronous.
The following methods and properties are defined:
1. ``agen.__aiter__()``: Returns ``agen``.
2. ``agen.__anext__()``: Returns an *awaitable*, that performs one
asynchronous generator iteration when awaited.
3. ``agen.asend(val)``: Returns an *awaitable*, that pushes the
``val`` object in the ``agen`` generator. When the ``agen`` has
not yet been iterated, ``val`` must be ``None``.
async def gen():
await asyncio.sleep(0.1)
v = yield 42
await asyncio.sleep(0.2)
g = gen()
await g.asend(None) # Will return 42 after sleeping
# for 0.1 seconds.
await g.asend('hello') # Will print 'hello' and
# raise StopAsyncIteration
# (after sleeping for 0.2 seconds.)
4. ``agen.athrow(typ, [val, [tb]])``: Returns an *awaitable*, that
throws an exception into the ``agen`` generator.
async def gen():
await asyncio.sleep(0.1)
yield 'hello'
except ZeroDivisionError:
await asyncio.sleep(0.2)
yield 'world'
g = gen()
v = await g.asend(None)
print(v) # Will print 'hello' after
# sleeping for 0.1 seconds.
v = await g.athrow(ZeroDivisionError)
print(v) # Will print 'world' after
$ sleeping 0.2 seconds.
5. ``agen.aclose()``: Returns an *awaitable*, that throws a
``GeneratorExit`` exception into the generator. The *awaitable* can
either return a yielded value, if ``agen`` handled the exception,
or ``agen`` will be closed and the exception will propagate back
to the caller.
6. ``agen.__name__`` and ``agen.__qualname__``: readable and writable
name and qualified name attributes.
7. ``agen.ag_await``: The object that ``agen`` is currently *awaiting*
on, or ``None``. This is similar to the currently available
``gi_yieldfrom`` for generators and ``cr_await`` for coroutines.
8. ``agen.ag_frame``, ``agen.ag_running``, and ``agen.ag_code``:
defined in the same way as similar attributes of standard generators.
``StopIteration`` and ``StopAsyncIteration`` are not propagated out of
asynchronous generators, and are replaced with a ``RuntimeError``.
Implementation Details
Asynchronous generator object (``PyAsyncGenObject``) shares the
struct layout with ``PyGenObject``. In addition to that, the
reference implementation introduces three new objects:
1. ``PyAsyncGenASend``: the awaitable object that implements
``__anext__`` and ``asend()`` methods.
2. ``PyAsyncGenAThrow``: the awaitable object that implements
``athrow()`` and ``aclose()`` methods.
3. ``_PyAsyncGenWrappedValue``: every directly yielded object from an
asynchronous generator is implicitly boxed into this structure. This
is how the generator implementation can separate objects that are
yielded using regular iteration protocol from objects that are
yielded using asynchronous iteration protocol.
``PyAsyncGenASend`` and ``PyAsyncGenAThrow`` are awaitables (they have
``__await__`` methods returning ``self``) and are coroutine-like objects
(implementing ``__iter__``, ``__next__``, ``send()`` and ``throw()``
methods). Essentially, they control how asynchronous generators are
.. image:: pep-0525-1.png
:align: center
:width: 80%
PyAsyncGenASend and PyAsyncGenAThrow
``PyAsyncGenASend`` is a coroutine-like object that drives ``__anext__``
and ``asend()`` methods and implements the asynchronous iteration
``agen.asend(val)`` and ``agen.__anext__()`` return instances of
``PyAsyncGenASend`` (which hold references back to the parent
``agen`` object.)
The data flow is defined as follows:
1. When ``PyAsyncGenASend.send(val)`` is called for the first time,
``val`` is pushed to the parent ``agen`` object (using existing
facilities of ``PyGenObject``.)
Subsequent iterations over the ``PyAsyncGenASend`` objects, push
``None`` to ``agen``.
When a ``_PyAsyncGenWrappedValue`` object is yielded, it
is unboxed, and a ``StopIteration`` exception is raised with the
unwrapped value as an argument.
2. When ``PyAsyncGenASend.throw(*exc)`` is called for the first time,
``*exc`` is throwed into the parent ``agen`` object.
Subsequent iterations over the ``PyAsyncGenASend`` objects, push
``None`` to ``agen``.
When a ``_PyAsyncGenWrappedValue`` object is yielded, it
is unboxed, and a ``StopIteration`` exception is raised with the
unwrapped value as an argument.
3. ``return`` statements in asynchronous generators raise
``StopAsyncIteration`` exception, which is propagated through
``PyAsyncGenASend.send()`` and ``PyAsyncGenASend.throw()`` methods.
``PyAsyncGenAThrow`` is very similar to ``PyAsyncGenASend``. The only
difference is that ``PyAsyncGenAThrow.send()``, when called first time,
throws an exception into the parent ``agen`` object (instead of pushing
a value into it.)
New Standard Library Functions and Types
1. ``types.AsyncGeneratorType`` -- type of asynchronous generator
2. ``sys.set_asyncgen_hooks()`` and ``sys.get_asyncgen_hooks()``
methods to set up asynchronous generators finalizers and iteration
interceptors in event loops.
3. ``inspect.isasyncgen()`` and ``inspect.isasyncgenfunction()``
introspection functions.
4. New method for asyncio event loop: ``loop.shutdown_asyncgens()``.
5. New ```` abstract base class.
Backwards Compatibility
The proposal is fully backwards compatible.
In Python 3.5 it is a ``SyntaxError`` to define an ``async def``
function with a ``yield`` expression inside, therefore it's safe to
introduce asynchronous generators in 3.6.
Regular Generators
There is no performance degradation for regular generators.
The following micro benchmark runs at the same speed on CPython with
and without asynchronous generators::
def gen():
i = 0
while i < 100000000:
yield i
i += 1
Improvements over asynchronous iterators
The following micro-benchmark shows that asynchronous generators
are about **2.3x faster** than asynchronous iterators implemented in
pure Python::
N = 10 ** 7
async def agen():
for i in range(N):
yield i
class AIter:
def __init__(self):
self.i = 0
def __aiter__(self):
return self
async def __anext__(self):
i = self.i
if i >= N:
raise StopAsyncIteration
self.i += 1
return i
Design Considerations
``aiter()`` and ``anext()`` builtins
Originally, PEP 492 defined ``__aiter__`` as a method that should
return an *awaitable* object, resulting in an asynchronous iterator.
However, in CPython 3.5.2, ``__aiter__`` was redefined to return
asynchronous iterators directly. To avoid breaking backwards
compatibility, it was decided that Python 3.6 will support both
ways: ``__aiter__`` can still return an *awaitable* with
a ``DeprecationWarning`` being issued.
Because of this dual nature of ``__aiter__`` in Python 3.6, we cannot
add a synchronous implementation of ``aiter()`` built-in. Therefore,
it is proposed to wait until Python 3.7.
Asynchronous list/dict/set comprehensions
Syntax for asynchronous comprehensions is unrelated to the asynchronous
generators machinery, and should be considered in a separate PEP.
Asynchronous ``yield from``
While it is theoretically possible to implement ``yield from`` support
for asynchronous generators, it would require a serious redesign of the
generators implementation.
``yield from`` is also less critical for asynchronous generators, since
there is no need provide a mechanism of implementing another coroutines
protocol on top of coroutines. And to compose asynchronous generators a
simple ``async for`` loop can be used::
async def g1():
yield 1
yield 2
async def g2():
async for v in g1():
yield v
Why the ``asend()`` and ``athrow()`` methods are necessary
They make it possible to implement concepts similar to
``contextlib.contextmanager`` using asynchronous generators.
For instance, with the proposed design, it is possible to implement
the following pattern::
async def ctx():
await open()
await close()
async with ctx():
await ...
Another reason is that it is possible to push data and throw exceptions
into asynchronous generators using the object returned from
``__anext__`` object, but it is hard to do that correctly. Adding
explicit ``asend()`` and ``athrow()`` will pave a safe way to
accomplish that.
In terms of implementation, ``asend()`` is a slightly more generic
version of ``__anext__``, and ``athrow()`` is very similar to
``aclose()``. Therefore having these methods defined for asynchronous
generators does not add any extra complexity.
A working example with the current reference implementation (will
print numbers from 0 to 9 with one second delay)::
async def ticker(delay, to):
for i in range(to):
yield i
await asyncio.sleep(delay)
async def run():
async for i in ticker(1, 10):
import asyncio
loop = asyncio.get_event_loop()
PEP 525 was accepted by Guido, September 6, 2016 [2]_.
The implementation is tracked in issue 28003 [3]_. The reference
implementation git repository is available at [1]_.
.. [1]
.. [2]
.. [3]
I thank Guido van Rossum, Victor Stinner, Elvis Pranskevichus,
Nathaniel Smith, Łukasz Langa, Andrew Svetlov and many others
for their feedback, code reviews, and discussions around this
This document has been placed in the public domain.
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