I'm having to do some funky things with (among other things) reporting incremental information back to a caller from a processor class running on a worker thread. What I was looking for was a call-and-forget method that would allow a process on the managing object to run completely independently of the processor object. I was hoping to be able to do this with asynchronous delegates.
I was apparently confused by the term, "asynchronous", that Microsoft uses to refer to this functionality ... they really should have called it "parallel". The distinction (that I make in my messy little mind) is that an asynchronous process can run concurrently and/or independently of the calling process, while a parallel process can only run concurrently. For instance, a parallel process must rejoin the calling thread when it has completed (which, if the calling process has finished earlier, means that the calling process is blocking while waiting for the called process to complete), whereas an asynchronous process is entirely independent and could be run after the calling process has completed entirely.
On the other hand, that term, "concurrently", is a problem. It means one thing in a single-processor environment and another in a multi-processor environment, and parallelism has usually been associated with the latter (therefore, its use might imply a multi-processor environment.) Do we need a new term? Or can we get by with assuming Microsoft meant asynchronous invocation, not processing, and just live with the fact that the processing behavior is not currently described by any term?
As an aside (since I had trouble finding this documented) ...
the delegate BeginInvoke and EndInvoke methods are automatically emitted by the CLR with signatures tailored to the signature of the delgate being called. Since they aren't "real" method calls, there's no documentation in MSDN about them. Be forewarned before you waste your time hunting. If you're curious, the BeginInvoke signature is (x, y, z, callback, delegate) where "x, y, z" are the parameters the delegate is expecting.