What are anonymous pipes and anonymous pipes? Easy-to-understand explanation of basic concepts of data communication

Explanation of IT Terms

What are Anonymous Pipes? An Easy-to-Understand Explanation of the Basic Concepts of Data Communication


When it comes to data communication between processes, anonymous pipes play a crucial role. But what exactly are anonymous pipes? In this blog post, we will delve into the basic concepts of data communication, focusing on anonymous pipes and their significance. By the end, you will have a clear understanding of what anonymous pipes are and how they facilitate communication between processes.

Understanding Data Communication

Data communication is the process by which information is exchanged between two or more systems. It allows processes to share data, coordinating their actions, and collaborating towards a common goal. In the context of computer systems, processes can be independent programs or threads within the same program.

An Introduction to Pipes

A pipe is a fundamental method of interprocess communication (IPC) that enables the exchange of data between two processes. It acts as a conduit through which data flows from the output of one process to the input of another process. Pipes can be classified into two types: named pipes and anonymous pipes.

What are Anonymous Pipes?

Anonymous pipes are a type of interprocess communication mechanism that allows for bidirectional data exchange between a parent and a child process. They have no name and are created using system calls or library functions provided by the operating system.

Anonymous pipes are primarily used for communication between related processes, such as a parent process and its child processes. The parent process creates the pipe and then forks to create a child process. Both the parent and child processes have access to the read and write ends of the pipe, allowing data to be passed back and forth.

How Anonymous Pipes Work

When a parent process creates an anonymous pipe, it creates both a read end and a write end. The read end is used by the parent process to read data from the pipe, while the write end is used to write data to the pipe. Similarly, the child process also has access to the read and write ends, allowing it to read data written by the parent and write data back to the parent.

To communicate through an anonymous pipe, the parent and child processes use the file descriptors associated with the read and write ends. The parent process can write data to the write end of the pipe, which the child process can read from the read end. The child process can also write data to the write end, which the parent process can read from the read end.

Benefits and Limitations of Anonymous Pipes

Anonymous pipes offer several benefits, including simplicity, efficiency, and synchronization. They are easy to create and use, requiring minimal setup and maintenance. They also provide efficient data transfer between processes without the need for additional storage or serialization.

However, anonymous pipes have limitations. They can only be used for communication between related processes, and they are unidirectional, meaning that data can only flow in one direction at a time. Furthermore, they are limited in capacity, which can affect performance if large amounts of data need to be transferred.


Anonymous pipes are an essential component of data communication between processes. They provide a simple and efficient way for parent and child processes to exchange data in a bidirectional manner. By understanding the basic concepts of anonymous pipes, you can utilize this powerful communication mechanism to enhance the collaboration and coordination of your processes.

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