Context cancelled by timeout but computation is not aborted?


Trying to understand how go context cancellation will abort execution of subsequent code

Details of experiment:

  1. main func has a context that times out in 2sec
  2. main func calls another func sum in a separate go-routine – which sleeps for 1sec for test-run-1 & 4sec for test-run-2
  3. letting main sleep for 3sec to let spun go-routine complete execution
package main

import (

func main() {

    c := context.Background()
    childCtx, cancel := context.WithTimeout(c, 2*time.Second)
    defer cancel()

    ch := make(chan int, 1)
    go sum(5, 6, ch)

    var msg string

    select {
    case <-childCtx.Done():
        msg = "return from ctx done channel"
    case res := <-ch:
        msg = fmt.Sprintf("return from go routine: %v", res)


    time.Sleep(3 * time.Second) //sleeping here to test if go-routine is still running

func sum(x int, y int, c chan<- int) {
    time.Sleep(1 * time.Second) 
    //testcase-1: sleep - 1s
    //testcase-2: sleep - 4s

    result := x + y

    log.Printf("print from sum fn: %v", result)

    c <- result

Response for testcase-1 : sleep sum function for 1 sec:

2021/04/12 01:06:58 print from sum fn: 11
2021/04/12 01:06:58 return from go routine: 11

Response for testcase-2 : sleep sum function for 4 sec:

2021/04/12 01:08:25 return from ctx done channel
2021/04/12 01:08:27 print from sum fn: 11

In testcase-2 when sum func sleeps for 4 secs, context is already cancelled by timeout after 2secs, why is it still executing the sum func in diff go-routine and printing print from sum fn: 1 ?

From documentation: Canceling this context releases resources associated with it.

My assumption is that all the computation will be aborted immediately after 2 secs including the spun go-routine

Let me know how to do this right, thanks in adavance


As @AndySchweig has noted, context signals a cancelation event, but does not enforce cancelation. It’s up to any potentially blocking goroutine to do its best at trying to cancel/clean-up after it detects a cancelation.

To update your sum function to support cancelation you could try:

// add context parameter as the first argument
// add a return error - to indicate any errors (i.e. function was interrupted due to cancelation)
func sum(ctx context.Context, x int, y int, c chan<- int) (err error) {

    wait := 1 * time.Second // testcase-1
    //wait := 4 * time.Second // testcase-2

    // any blocking called - even sleeps - should be interruptible
    select {
    case <-time.After(wait):
    case <-ctx.Done():
        err = ctx.Err()

    result := x + y

    log.Printf("print from sum fn: %v", result)

    select {
    case c <- result:
    case <-ctx.Done(): // check for ctx cancelation here - as no one may be listening on result channel
        err = ctx.Err()

Answered By – colm.anseo

Answer Checked By – Marie Seifert (GoLangFix Admin)

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