Multithreading vs. Multiprocessing – Analytics Vidhya

Multithreading and multiprocessing are fundamental concepts in computer multitasking, enabling concurrent execution of tasks. While both aim to improve system performance, they have distinct characteristics and are suitable for different scenarios. This article will explore multithreading vs. multiprocessing, their advantages, disadvantages, and the factors influencing their use in various programming tasks. Let’s delve into the intricacies of these powerful techniques to gain a comprehensive understanding of their applications and implications in modern computing.

Multithreading vs. Multiprocessing: Understanding the Differences
Source: Educba

What is Multiprocessing?

The multiprocessing approach has its own memory area, stack, and program counter and runs independently. Pipelines, shared memory, and message transmission are just a few ways processes can talk to one another. A multiprocessing module in Python allows controlling several processes easily. Hence, the concept of executing several processes simultaneously on a computer system in addition to several processing units refers to multiprocessing.

What is Multithreading?

The process of Multithreading includes running several threads concurrently. A thread represents an independent path of execution within a program, sharing the same memory space and resources. Using shared data structures or synchronization techniques, threads in a process can talk to one another. You may build and manage threads using the threading module in Python.

Multithreading vs. Multiprocessing

We shall compare Multiprocessing and Multithreading approaches in the following table to grasp their differences better:

Resource UtilizationShared resourcesSeparate resources
MemoryShared memory spaceIndependent memory
CommunicationLightweightRequires inter-process communication mechanisms
CPU-bound TasksLess efficientMore efficient
I/O-bound TasksEfficientEfficient
ComplexityLower complexityHigher complexity
DebuggingEasierMore challenging

Characteristics of Multiprocessing

  • Parallel Execution: Multiprocessing allows simultaneous execution of processes on separate cores or processors, improving system throughput and performance.
  • Independent Processes: In multiprocessing, each process has its memory, stack, and program counter. This ensures that when one process crashes or fails, it doesn’t influence the other processes.
  • Resource Allocation: Multiprocessing assigns distinct resources to each process, allowing for effective resource utilization and preventing conflicts.
  • Inter-Process Communication: Processes in multiprocessing can communicate through mechanisms like pipelines, shared memory, or message passing, facilitating data exchange and synchronization.
  • CPU-bound Efficiency: By instilling multiple cores or processors, multiprocessing is effective for CPU-bound workloads, resulting in much faster execution of computationally extensive operations.
  • Complexity: Since inter-process communication, synchronization, and coordination are to be managed, multiprocessing is much more complex than single-threaded execution.

Features of Multithreading

  • Concurrent Execution: Multiple threads can run simultaneously within a single process thanks to Multithreading.
  • Shared Memory Space: A process’s threads can access shared data directly since they share the same memory space.
  • Resource Sharing: Threads can share resources, including memory, file handles, and network connections, thanks to Multithreading.
  • Lightweight Communication: Communication between threads is lightweight and efficient since they can directly access shared data.
  • I/O-bound Efficiency: Multithreading is effective for I/O-bound tasks as threads can overlap waiting times and improve overall performance.
  • Lower Complexity: Multithreading has lower complexity than Multiprocessing, as shared memory simplifies communication between threads.
  • Synchronization Challenges: Synchronization between threads can introduce complexities like race conditions and deadlocks, requiring careful management and synchronization mechanisms.

Advantages of Multiprocessing

  1. Enhanced Fault Tolerance: Each Multiprocessing process runs independently, improving fault tolerance. If one process encounters an error or crashes, others can continue their execution unaffected.
  2. Resource Isolation: Multiprocessing provides resource isolation between processes. Each process has its memory space, stack, and program counter, preventing interference and conflicts between processes.

Advantages of Multithreading

  1. Improved Performance for I/O-bound Tasks: Multithreading benefits I/O-bound tasks where threads overlap waiting times. By executing multiple threads concurrently, the overall performance can be enhanced by utilizing idle CPU time efficiently.
  2. Lightweight Communication: Communication between threads in Multithreading is lightweight, as they can directly access shared memory. This makes data sharing between threads quick and efficient without complicated communication techniques.

Disadvantages of Multiprocessing

  1. Complexity of Inter-Process Communication: Multiprocessing adds complexity since inter-process communication methods are required. Pipes, shared memory, or message passing are communication channels that can be implemented and managed to reduce overhead and increase system complexity.
  2. Increased Memory Overhead: When opposed to Multithreading, Multiprocessing can have higher memory overhead because each process needs its dedicated memory area. This is especially important when managing numerous processes.

Disadvantages of Multithreading

  1. Synchronization Challenges: Multithreading introduces challenges such as race conditions and deadlocks when multiple threads concurrently access and modify shared data. Appropriate synchronization methods such as locks and semaphores must be utilized to avoid data corruption and guarantee consistency.
  2. Debugging Complexity: Programming for multiple threads can be more challenging than multiprocessing. Multithreaded programming can be challenging to discover and fix mistakes in because of non-deterministic behavior, race scenarios, and thread interactions, necessitating rigorous debugging techniques and tools.


In conclusion, choosing the best option based on task needs and resource availability requires a thorough grasp of the characteristics of multithreading and multiprocessing. Multiprocessing is more effective for I/O-bound scenarios with independent process resources, whereas multithreading is ideal for CPU-bound jobs with little communication. Developers can improve parallel execution and resource utilization in their applications by utilizing each strategy’s advantages while considering their weaknesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What factors determine whether to use multithreading or multiprocessing in a task? When is multithreading preferred, and when is multiprocessing preferred?

A. The choice between multithreading and multiprocessing depends on task requirements. Multithreading suits input/output operations and waiting times, enhancing performance. Multiprocessing is ideal for computationally complex tasks, dividing them into parts for concurrent processing.

Q2: How do multiprocessing, multithreading, and multicore differ in their operational characteristics? What is the role of each in concurrent execution?

A. Multiprocessing handles independent processes with separate memory, while multithreading runs threads sharing memory within a process. Multicore refers to hardware with multiple processor cores for simultaneous execution, improving overall performance.

Q3: What is the distinction between multitasking and multithreading? How does each enable the execution of multiple tasks?

A. Multitasking manages multiple processes in an operating system, allowing them to run concurrently. Multithreading enables parallel execution of threads within a single process, enhancing resource utilization and efficiency.

Q4: In Python, how does multithreading handle threads within a process? How does multiprocessing manage multiple processes, and what benefits does it offer? What modules in Python facilitate interaction with threads and processes?

A. Python’s multithreading manages threads within a process, utilizing shared memory for communication. Multiprocessing sets up and controls multiple independent processes with their own memory. Python offers “threading” and “multiprocessing” modules for interacting with threads and processes.

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