Where a thread is a good idea

There are two classes of problems where the application of threads is a good idea.

Threads are like overloading operators in C++ — it may seem like a good idea (at the time) to overload every single operator with some interesting use, but it makes the code hard to understand. Similarly with threads, you could create piles of threads, but the additional complexity will make your code hard to understand, and therefore hard to maintain. Judicious use of threads, on the other hand, will result in code that is functionally very clean.

Threads are great where you can parallelize operations — a number of mathematical problems spring to mind (graphics, digital signal processing, etc.). Threads are also great where you want a program to perform several independent functions while sharing data, such as a web-server that's serving multiple clients simultaneously. We'll examine these two classes.