package lwt

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Monadic promises and concurrent I/O


Dune Dependency






Lwt is OCaml's concurrent programming library. It provides a single data type: the promise, which is a value that will become determined in the future. Creating a promise spawns a computation. When that computation is I/O, Lwt runs it in parallel with your OCaml code.

OCaml code, including creating and waiting on promises, is run in a single thread by default, so you don't have to worry about locking or preemption. You can detach code to be run in separate threads on an opt-in basis.

Here is a simplistic Lwt program which requests the Google front page, and fails if the request is not completed in five seconds:

let () =
  let request =
    let%lwt addresses = Lwt_unix.getaddrinfo "" "80" [] in
    let google = (List.hd addresses).Lwt_unix.ai_addr in

    Lwt_io.(with_connection google (fun (incoming, outgoing) ->
      let%lwt () = write outgoing "GET / HTTP/1.1\r\n" in
      let%lwt () = write outgoing "Connection: close\r\n\r\n" in
      let%lwt response = read incoming in
      Lwt.return (Some response)))

  let timeout =
    let%lwt () = Lwt_unix.sleep 5. in
    Lwt.return None

  match (Lwt.pick [request; timeout]) with
  | Some response -> print_string response
  | None -> prerr_endline "Request timed out"; exit 1

(* ocamlfind opt -package lwt.unix -package lwt.ppx -linkpkg -o request
   ./request *)

In the program, functions such as Lwt_io.write create promises. The let%lwt ... in construct is used to wait for a promise to become determined; the code after in is scheduled to run in a "callback." Lwt.pick races promises against each other, and behaves as the first one to complete. forces the whole promise-computation network to be executed. All the visible OCaml code is run in a single thread, but Lwt internally uses a combination of worker threads and non-blocking file descriptors to resolve in parallel the promises that do I/O.


opam install lwt


The manual can be found here. There are also some examples available in doc/examples.

Note: much of the manual still refers to 'a Lwt.t as "lightweight threads" or just "threads." This will be fixed in the new manual. 'a Lwt.t is a promise, and has nothing to do with system or preemptive threads.


Open an issue, visit Gitter chat, email the maintainer, or ask in #ocaml. If you think enough people will be interested in the answer, it is also possible to ask on Stack Overflow.

Subscribe to the announcements issue to get news about Lwt releases. It is less noisy than watching the whole repository. Announcements are also made in /r/ocaml and on the OCaml mailing list.


Lwt is a very mature library, but there is considerable room for improvement. Contributions are welcome. To clone the source and install a development version,

opam source --dev-repo --pin lwt

This will also install the development dependency OASIS.

A list of project suggestions and a roadmap can be found on the wiki.


Lwt is released under the LGPL, with the OpenSSL linking exception. See COPYING.


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