Inter Process Communication


Inter-Process Communication (IPC) refers to a set of methods and techniques used for exchanging data and coordinating activities between multiple processes running within a system. It allows independent processes to share information, efficiently synchronize their operations, and maintain data consistency. Common IPC mechanisms include pipes, message queues, shared memory, and sockets.


The phonetics of the keyword “Inter Process Communication” is:/ˈɪntər ˈprɒsɛs kəˌmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃən/In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), it can be broken down as follows:- Inter /ˈɪntər/- Process /ˈprɒsɛs/- Communication /kəˌmjuːnɪˈkeɪʃən/

Key Takeaways

  1. Inter Process Communication (IPC) enables different processes to share data and resources, allowing them to work collaboratively and efficiently.
  2. IPC utilizes various methods, such as pipes, message queues, shared memory, and sockets, to facilitate communication between independent processes.
  3. IPC is crucial for the development of large-scale, modular applications, since it ensures synchronicity, proper functioning, and process coordination.


Inter Process Communication (IPC) is a crucial aspect of technology, as it enables the efficient exchange of information between multiple processes running on a system, allowing them to work concurrently and harmoniously.

IPC plays a critical role in enhancing the performance, reliability, and maintainability of applications, promoting modularity, and enabling faster execution due to parallel processing.

By facilitating communication and synchronization among independent processes, IPC forms the backbone of many distributed computing environments and complex software systems, paving the way for comprehensive collaboration and robust programs.


Inter Process Communication (IPC) serves the crucial purpose of enabling collaboration among distinct processes running within an operating system. This collaborative framework provides a systematic approach to share data and resources efficiently, allowing processes to effectively cooperate and synchronize their activities. As applications and systems grow more complex, it becomes imperative to segregate tasks into multiple, well-defined processes that operate independently from one another.

IPC allows these discrete processes to communicate, delegate, and manage their tasks effectively, simultaneously enhancing system performance, reliability, and scalability. Taking advantage of IPC, applications can benefit from more advanced and agile systems that embrace greater parallelism and modularity. For instance, in a graphical user interface, distinct processes are responsible for rendering windows, handling user inputs, managing data storage, and processing data, among other tasks.

IPC provides a cohesive communication infrastructure that uses tools like message passing, shared memory, and remote procedure calls to exchange information and synchronize actions. This optimizes resource utilization, harmonizes the execution of interdependent tasks, and bolsters adaptability in ever-evolving computing environments. Ultimately, Inter Process Communication unlocks the potential for robust, dynamic systems that are better equipped to address increasingly intricate technological challenges.

Examples of Inter Process Communication

Pipes in Unix/Linux Systems: Pipes are one of the oldest and widely-used IPC mechanisms in Unix and Linux-based operating systems. They allow communication and data transfer between two processes running in the same system. A pipe can be created using the pipe() system call, and data can then be read or written using read() and write() respectively. A common example is when a user connects multiple processes in a command shell with the “|” symbol, creating a pipeline through which data is transferred and modified.

D-Bus (Desktop Bus): D-Bus is an IPC system used primarily in the Linux and Unix-based environments. It provides a message bus that enables communication between various applications and components of a system, such as the hardware, application software, and operating system. D-Bus is typically used for event notifications and to manage and coordinate application services. For example, when a user connects an external storage device, D-Bus can notify the file manager to open a window displaying the contents of the device.

Clipboard: The clipboard is an IPC mechanism that enables users to transfer data between different applications running on an operating system. The clipboard provides a shared memory space where one application can copy data, such as text or images, and another application can access and paste the copied data. This data exchange occurs without direct communication between the applications – only via the shared clipboard. For example, copying text from a word processing application and pasting it into a spreadsheet or an email program.

FAQs about Inter Process Communication

What is Inter Process Communication (IPC)?

Inter Process Communication (IPC) is a mechanism that allows different processes to communicate with each other, either within the same computer or across different machines. It facilitates the exchange of data, synchronization, and coordination between processes.

What are the main methods used for IPC?

Some common IPC methods include: shared memory, message passing (e.g. message queues), pipes (named and unnamed), and sockets. Each method has its own advantages and is suitable for different scenarios and requirements.

What is the difference between shared memory and message passing?

Shared memory is an IPC method that involves two or more processes sharing a memory region, allowing them to directly read and write data between each other. In contrast, message passing involves the exchange of data between processes using a messaging system, such as message queues or sockets, without directly accessing each other’s memory.

What are pipes and how are they used in IPC?

Pipes are a form of IPC that provide a one-way communication channel between processes. They can be anonymous (unnamed) or named. Anonymous pipes are typically used for parent-child process communication, while named pipes can be used for communication between unrelated processes or across networked machines. Pipes work by creating a buffer for the data to be transferred, and processes can then read and write data to the pipe as needed.

What are sockets, and how do they relate to IPC?

Sockets are a powerful and versatile IPC method that enables processes to communicate, both within the same machine and across different systems on a network. Sockets provide a bidirectional communication channel and support various transport-layer protocols, such as TCP and UDP. Because of their flexibility, sockets are widely used in many applications, such as web servers, remote procedure calls, and online gaming.

Related Technology Terms

  • Message Passing
  • Shared Memory
  • ///

    Pipes and Sockets

  • Remote Procedure Calls (RPC)
  • Signals

Sources for More Information


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