Java Thread

Abhishek Pratap Singh
5 min readJan 24, 2023

Introduction:

Java threads are lightweight and independent units of execution that run in parallel with other threads within a program. They are implemented using the Thread class or by implementing the Runnable interface. Threads allow for concurrent execution, which can improve performance on multi-core systems by utilizing all available CPU resources. Each thread has its own stack, program counter, and local variables, which allows them to run independently of other threads.

Thread Management:

Java provides several ways to manage threads, including creating, starting, stopping, and waiting for threads to complete. The Thread class provides the following methods for thread management:

  • start(): This method starts the execution of the thread. It calls the run() method of the thread and returns immediately.
  • join(): This method causes the calling thread to wait for the thread on which it is called to complete.
  • interrupt(): This method interrupts the thread on which it is called.
  • sleep(): This method causes the thread to sleep for a specified amount of time.

Java also provides the Executor framework and thread pools for managing and reusing threads efficiently. The Executor framework provides a higher-level abstraction for thread management, making it easier to create and manage threads. Thread pools are a collection of worker threads that can execute multiple tasks simultaneously.

Thread-local storage:

Thread-local storage is a mechanism that allows each thread to have its own copy of a variable, rather than sharing a single global copy. This is useful when a variable needs to have different values for different threads. The ThreadLocal class provides thread-local storage in Java. It’s a wrapper class that contains a reference to the data and provides methods to set, get, and remove the data.

Thread safety and immutability:

Thread safety means that a class or method can be safely used by multiple threads without causing errors or race conditions. A class or method can use synchronization, locks, or atomic operations to achieve thread safety.

Immutable objects are objects whose state cannot be modified once created. They are thread-safe by nature and can be freely shared between threads without the need for synchronization. Examples of immutable objects in Java include String, Integer, and BigDecimal.

Java thread development:

Java thread development refers to the process of creating, managing, and using threads in a Java application. It involves understanding how threads work and how to use the Thread class, the Runnable interface, and other related classes and interfaces to create, manage, and synchronize threads.

Here are the main steps for developing Java threads:

  1. Understanding the concepts of threads: Before developing threads, it’s essential to understand the basic concepts of threads and how they work. This includes understanding the difference between a process and a thread, and how threads share memory and resources.
  2. Creating a thread: There are two ways to create a thread in Java: by extending the Thread class or by implementing the Runnable interface. Extending the Thread class is the easiest way, but it limits the class from extending other classes. Implementing the Runnable interface allows the class to extend other classes as well.
  3. Starting a thread: Once a thread is created, it needs to be started by calling the start() method. This method calls the run() method of the thread and starts its execution.
  4. Managing threads: Java provides several methods for managing threads, such as join(), interrupt(), and sleep(). These methods can be used to wait for a thread to complete, interrupt a thread, and put a thread to sleep, respectively.
  5. Synchronization: Threads can access shared resources, so it’s important to synchronize access to shared resources to avoid race conditions and other synchronization issues. The synchronized keyword, locks, and atomic variables are used for synchronization.
  6. Thread-local storage: Thread-local storage allows each thread to have its own copy of a variable, rather than sharing a single global copy. This can be achieved by using the ThreadLocal class.
  7. Thread safety: Thread safety refers to the ability of a class or method to be safely used by multiple threads without causing errors or race conditions. This can be achieved by using synchronization, locks, and atomic variables.
  8. Immutable objects: Immutable objects are objects that cannot be modified once created. They are thread-safe by nature and can be freely shared between threads without the need for synchronization.

Implementation Java Thread:

There are two ways to implement threads in Java: by extending the Thread class or by implementing the Runnable interface.

  • Extending the Thread Class: You can create a new class that extends the Thread class and overrides the run() method. The run() method contains the code that will be executed by the thread. Once the class is defined, you can create an instance of the class and call the start() method to begin execution of the thread.

Example:

class MyThread extends Thread {
public void run() {
// code to be executed by the thread
}
}

public static void main(String[] args) {
MyThread myThread = new MyThread();
myThread.start();
}
  • Implementing the Runnable Interface: You can create a new class that implements the Runnable interface and overrides the run() method. The run() method contains the code that will be executed by the thread. Once the class is defined, you need to create an instance of the Thread class and pass an instance of the Runnable class to the constructor. Then, call the start() method to begin execution of the thread.

Example:

class MyRunnable implements Runnable {
public void run() {
// code to be executed by the thread
}
}

public static void main(String[] args) {
MyRunnable myRunnable = new MyRunnable();
Thread thread = new Thread(myRunnable);
thread.start();
}

In both cases, the code in the run() method will be executed by the thread. The start() method starts the execution of the thread and calls the run() method. Note that the start() method can only be called once per thread, otherwise an IllegalThreadStateException will be thrown.

Advantages of using threads in Java:

  1. Improved Performance: Threads allow for concurrent execution, which can improve performance on multi-core systems by utilizing all available CPU resources.
  2. Responsiveness: Threads can be used to perform background tasks, such as I/O operations or computations, while keeping the user interface responsive.
  3. Resource sharing: Threads share the memory space of the process that created them, which allows them to share data and resources easily.
  4. Better resource utilization: Threads can take advantage of idle time to perform background tasks, which can improve overall system performance.
  5. Simplifies the design: Threads can be used to break down a complex problem into smaller, more manageable tasks that can be executed concurrently.

Disadvantages of using threads in Java:

  1. Complexity: Threads can add complexity to the design and implementation of a program, especially when it comes to synchronization and resource sharing.
  2. Resource contention: Threads can compete for shared resources, which can lead to race conditions, deadlocks, and other synchronization issues.
  3. Debugging: Debugging multithreaded programs can be more difficult than debugging single-threaded programs.
  4. Scheduling overhead: The operating system must schedule and switch between threads, which can add overhead and reduce performance.
  5. Memory overhead: Each thread requires its own stack and other resources, which can add memory overhead, especially in a program with many threads.

Conclusion:

Threads are a fundamental aspect of Java programming that allows for concurrent execution and improved performance on multi-core systems. Java provides various ways to manage threads, thread-local storage, and thread safety. Understanding how to use threads effectively is crucial for writing high-performance and stable Java applications.

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Abhishek Pratap Singh

Software Engineer || Co- Founder || B-Plan contest finalist at IIT Kharagpur || 1st Rank on SQL- HackerRank