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Java - Multithreading


Java is a multithreaded programming language which means we can develop multithreaded program using Java. A multithreaded program contains two or more parts that can run concurrently and each part can handle different task at the same time making optimal use of the available resources specially when your computer has multiple CPUs.

By definition multitasking is when multiple processes share common processing resources such as a CPU. Multithreading extends the idea of multitasking into applications where you can subdivide specific operations within a single application into individual threads. Each of the threads can run in parallel. The OS divides processing time not only among different applications, but also among each thread within an application.

Multithreading enables you to write in a way where multiple activities can proceed concurrently in the same program.

Life Cycle of a Thread:

A thread goes through various stages in its life cycle. For example, a thread is born, started, runs, and then dies. Following diagram shows complete life cycle of a thread.

Above-mentioned stages are explained here:
  • New: A new thread begins its life cycle in the new state. It remains in this state until the program starts the thread. It is also referred to as a born thread.
  • Runnable: After a newly born thread is started, the thread becomes runnable. A thread in this state is considered to be executing its task.
  • Waiting: Sometimes, a thread transitions to the waiting state while the thread waits for another thread to perform a task.A thread transitions back to the runnable state only when another thread signals the waiting thread to continue executing.
  • Timed waiting: A runnable thread can enter the timed waiting state for a specified interval of time. A thread in this state transitions back to the runnable state when that time interval expires or when the event it is waiting for occurs.
  • Terminated: A runnable thread enters the terminated state when it completes its task or otherwise terminates.
Thread Priorities:

Every Java thread has a priority that helps the operating system determine the order in which threads are scheduled.

Java thread priorities are in the range between MIN_PRIORITY (a constant of 1) and MAX_PRIORITY (a constant of 10). By default, every thread is given priority NORM_PRIORITY (a constant of 5).

Threads with higher priority are more important to a program and should be allocated processor time before lower-priority threads. However, thread priorities cannot guarantee the order in which threads execute and very much platform dependentant.

Create Thread by Implementing Runnable Interface:

If your class is intended to be executed as a thread then you can achieve this by implementingRunnable interface. You will need to follow three basic steps:

STEP1:

As a first step you need to implement a run() method provided by Runnable interface. This method provides entry point for the thread and you will put you complete business logic inside this method. Following is simple syntax of run() method:

public void run( )

STEP2:

At second step you will instantiate a Thread object using the following constructor:

Thread(Runnable threadObj, String threadName);

Where, threadObj is an instance of a class that implements the Runnable interface and threadName is the name given to the new thread.

STEP3

Once Thread object is created, you can start it by calling start( ) method, which executes a call to run( ) method. Following is simple syntax of start() method:

void start( );

Example:

Here is an example that creates a new thread and starts it running:

class RunnableDemo implements Runnable {
private Thread t;
private String threadName;
RunnableDemo( String name){
threadName = name;
System.out.println("Creating " + threadName );
}
public void run()
System.out.println("Running " + threadName );
try {
for(int i = 4; i > 0; i--){
System.out.println("Thread: " + threadName + ", " + i);
// Let the thread sleep for a while.
Thread.sleep(50);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " interrupted.");
} System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " exiting.");
}
public void start ()
{
System.out.println("Starting " + threadName );
if (t == null)
{
t = new Thread (this, threadName);
t.start ();
}
}
}
public class TestThread {
public static void main(String args[]) {
RunnableDemo R1 = new RunnableDemo( "Thread-1");
R1.start();
RunnableDemo R2 = new RunnableDemo( "Thread-2");
R2.start();
}
}

This would produce the following result:

Creating Thread-1
Starting Thread-1
Creating Thread-2
Starting Thread-2
Running Thread-1
Thread: Thread-1, 4
Running Thread-2
Thread: Thread-2, 4
Thread: Thread-1, 3
Thread: Thread-2, 3
Thread: Thread-1, 2
Thread: Thread-2, 2
Thread: Thread-1, 1
Thread: Thread-2, 1
Thread Thread-1 exiting.
Thread Thread-2 exiting.

Create Thread by Extending Thread Class:

The second way to create a thread is to create a new class that extends Thread class using the following two simple steps. This approach provides more flexibility in handling multiple threads created using available methods in Thread class.

STEP1

You will need to override run( ) method available in Thread class. This method provides entry point for the thread and you will put you complete business logic inside this method. Following is simple syntax of run() method:

public void run( )

STEP2

Once Thread object is created, you can start it by calling start( ) method, which executes a call to run( ) method. Following is simple syntax of start() method:

void start( );

Example:

Here is the preceding program rewritten to extend Thread:

class ThreadDemo extends Thread {
private Thread t;
private String threadName;
ThreadDemo( String name){
threadName = name;
System.out.println("Creating" + threadName );
}
public void run() {
System.out.println("Running "+ threadName );
try {
for(int i = 4; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Thread: " + threadName + ", " + i);
// Let the thread sleep for a while.
Thread.sleep(50);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " exiting.");
}
public void start ()
{
System.out.println("Starting " + threadName );
if (t == null)
{
t = new Thread (this, threadName);
t.start ();
}
}
}
public class TestThread {
public static void main(String args[]) {
ThreadDemo T1 = new ThreadDemo( "Thread-1");
T1.start();
ThreadDemo T2 = new ThreadDemo( "Thread-2"); T2.start();
}
}

This would produce the following result:

Creating Thread-1
Starting Thread-1
Creating Thread-2
Starting Thread-2
Running Thread-1
Thread: Thread-1, 4
Running Thread-2
Thread: Thread-2, 4
Thread: Thread-1, 3
Thread: Thread-2, 3
Thread: Thread-1, 2
Thread: Thread-2, 2
Thread: Thread-1, 1
Thread: Thread-2, 1
Thread Thread-1 exiting.
Thread Thread-2 exiting.

Thread Methods:

Following is the list of important methods available in the Thread class.
SNMethods with Description
1public void start()
Starts the thread in a separate path of execution, then invokes the run() method on this Thread object.
2public void run()
If this Thread object was instantiated using a separate Runnable target, the run() method is invoked on that Runnable object.
3public final void setName(String name)
Changes the name of the Thread object. There is also a getName() method for retrieving the name.
4public final void setPriority(int priority)
Sets the priority of this Thread object. The possible values are between 1 and 10.
5public final void setDaemon(boolean on)
A parameter of true denotes this Thread as a daemon thread.
6public final void join(long millisec)
The current thread invokes this method on a second thread, causing the current thread to block until the second thread terminates or the specified number of milliseconds passes.
7public void interrupt()
Interrupts this thread, causing it to continue execution if it was blocked for any reason.
8public final boolean isAlive()
Returns true if the thread is alive, which is any time after the thread has been started but before it runs to completion.
The previous methods are invoked on a particular Thread object. The following methods in the Thread class are static. Invoking one of the static methods performs the operation on the currently running thread.
SNMethods with Description
1public static void yield()
Causes the currently running thread to yield to any other threads of the same priority that are waiting to be scheduled.
2public static void sleep(long millisec)
Causes the currently running thread to block for at least the specified number of milliseconds.
3public static boolean holdsLock(Object x)
Returns true if the current thread holds the lock on the given Object.
4public static Thread currentThread()
Returns a reference to the currently running thread, which is the thread that invokes this method.
5public static void dumpStack()
Prints the stack trace for the currently running thread, which is useful when debugging a multithreaded application.
Example:

The following ThreadClassDemo program demonstrates some of these methods of the Thread class. Consider a class DisplayMessage which implements Runnable:

File Name : DisplayMessage.java
Create a thread to implement Runnable
public class DisplayMessage implements Runnable
{
private String message;
public DisplayMessage(String message)
{
this.message = message;
}
public void run()
{
while(true)
{
System.out.println(message);
}
}
}

Following is another class which extends Thread class:

File Name : GuessANumber.java
Create a thread to extentd Thread
public class GuessANumber extends Thread
{
private int number;
public GuessANumber(int number)
{
this.number = number;
}
public void run()
{
int counter = 0;
int guess = 0; do
{
guess = (int) (Math.random() * 100 + 1);
System.out.println(this.getName()
+ " guesses " + guess);
counter++;
}while(guess != number);
System.out.println("** Correct! " + this.getName()
+ " in " + counter + " guesses.**");
}
}

Following is the main program which makes use of above defined classes:

// File Name : ThreadClassDemo.java
public class ThreadClassDemo
{ public static void main(String [] args)
{
Runnable hello = new DisplayMessage("Hello");
Thread thread1 = new Thread(hello);
thread1.setDaemon(true);
thread1.setName("hello");
System.out.println("Starting hello thread...");
thread1.start();
Runnable bye = new DisplayMessage("Goodbye");
Thread thread2 = new Thread(bye);
thread2.setPriority(Thread.MIN_PRIORITY);
thread2.setDaemon(true);
System.out.println("Starting goodbye thread...");
thread2.start();
System.out.println("Starting thread3...");
Thread thread3 = new GuessANumber(27);
thread3.start();
try
{
thread3.join();
}catch(InterruptedException e)
{
System.out.println("Thread interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Starting thread4...");
Thread thread4 = new GuessANumber(75);
thread4.start();
System.out.println("main() is ending...");
}
}

This would produce the following result. You can try this example again and again and you would get different result every time.

Starting hello thread...
Starting goodbye thread...
Hello
Hello
Hello
Hello
Hello
Hello
Goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye
.......

Major Java Multithreading Concepts:

While doing Multithreading programming in Java, you would need to have the following concepts very handy:
  • What is thread synchronization?
  • Handling threads inter communication
  • Handling thread deadlock
  • Major thread operations
What is Thread synchronization?

When we start two or more threads within a program, there may be a situation when multiple threads try to access the same resource and finally they can produce unforeseen result due to concurrency issue. For example if multiple threads try to write within a same file then they may corrupt the data because one of the threads can overrite data or while one thread is opening the same file at the same time another thread might be closing the same file.

So there is a need to synchronize the action of multiple threads and make sure that only one thread can access the resource at a given point in time. This is implemented using a concept called monitors. Each object in Java is associated with a monitor, which a thread can lock or unlock. Only one thread at a time may hold a lock on a monitor.

Java programming language provides a very handy way of creating threads and synchronizing their task by using synchronized blocks. You keep shared resources within this block. Following is the general form of the synchronized statement:

synchronized(objectidentifier) {
// Access shared variables and other shared resources
}

Here, the objectidentifier is a reference to an object whose lock associates with the monitor that the synchronized statement represents. Now we are going to see two examples where we will print a counter using two different threads. When threads are not synchronized, they print counter value which is not in sequence, but when we print counter by putting inside synchronized() block, then it prints counter very much in sequence for both the threads.

Multithreading example withoutSynchronization:

Here is a simple example which may or may not print counter value in sequence and every time we run it, it produces different result based on CPU availability to a thread.

class PrintDemo {
public void printCount(){
try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Counter --- " + i );
}
} catch (Exception e) {
System.out.println("Thread interrupted.");
}
}
}
class Thread Demo extends Thread {
private Thread t;
private String threadName;
PrintDemo PD;
ThreadDemo( String name, PrintDemo pd){
threadName = name;
PD = pd;
}
public void run() {
PD.printCount();
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " exiting.");
}
public void start ()
{
System.out.println("Starting " + threadName );
if (t == null)
{
t = new Thread (this, threadName);
t.start ();
}
}
}
public class TestThread {
public static void main(String args[]) {
PrintDemo PD = new PrintDemo();
ThreadDemo T1 = new ThreadDemo( "Thread - 1 ", PD );
ThreadDemo T2 = new ThreadDemo( "Thread - 2 ", PD );
T1.start();
T2.start();
// wait for threads to end try {
T1.join();
T2.join();
} catch( Exception e) { System.out.println("Interrupted");
}
}
}

This produces different result every time you run this program:

Starting Thread - 1
Starting Thread - 2
Counter --- 5
Counter --- 4
Counter --- 3
Counter --- 5
Counter --- 2
Counter --- 1
Counter --- 4
Thread Thread - 1 exiting.
Counter --- 3
Counter --- 2
Counter --- 1
Thread Thread - 2 exiting.

MultithreadingexamplewithSynchronization:

Here is the same example which prints counter value in sequence and every time we run it, it produces same result.

class PrintDemo {
public void printCount(){ try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Counter --- " + i );
}
} catch (Exception e) {
System.out.println("Thread interrupted.");
}
}
}
class ThreadDemo extends Thread {
private Thread t;
private String threadName;
PrintDemo PD;
ThreadDemo( String name,
PrintDemo pd){
threadName = name;
PD = pd;
}
public void run() {
synchronized(PD) {
PD.printCount();
}
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " exiting.");
}
public void start ()
{
System.out.println("Starting " + threadName );
if (t == null)
{
t = new Thread (this, threadName);
t.start ();
}
}
}
public class TestThread {
public static void main(String args[]) {
PrintDemo PD = new PrintDemo();
ThreadDemo T1 = new ThreadDemo( "Thread - 1 ", PD );
ThreadDemo T2 = new ThreadDemo( "Thread - 2 ", PD );
T1.start();
T2.start();
// wait for threads to end
try {
T1.join();
T2.join();
} catch( Exception e) {
System.out.println("Interrupted");
}
}
}

This produces same result every time you run this program:

Starting Thread - 1
Starting Thread - 2
Counter --- 5
Counter --- 4
Counter --- 3
Counter --- 2
Counter --- 1
Thread Thread - 1 exiting.
Counter --- 5
Counter --- 4
Counter --- 3
Counter --- 2
Counter --- 1
Thread Thread - 2 exiting.

Handling threads inter communication

If you are aware of interprocess communication then it will be easy for you to understand inter thread communication. Inter thread communication is important when you develop an application where two or more threads exchange some information.

There are simply three methods and a little trick which makes thread communication possible. First let's see all the three methods listed below:
SNMethods with Description
1public void wait()
Causes the current thread to wait until another thread invokes the notify().
2public void notify()
Wakes up a single thread that is waiting on this object's monitor.
3public void notifyAll()
Wakes up all the threads that called wait( ) on the same object.
These methods have been implemented as final methods in Object, so they are available in all the classes. All three methods can be called only from within a synchronized context.

Example:

This examples shows how two thread can communicate using wait() and notify() method. You can create a complex system using the same concept.

class Chat {
boolean flag = false;
public synchronized void Question(String msg) {
if (flag) {
try { wait();
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}
System.out.println(msg);
flag = true;
notify();
}
public synchronized void Answer(String msg) {
if (!flag) {
try {
wait();
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}
System.out.println(msg);
flag = false;
notify();
}
}
class T1 implements Runnable {
Chat m;
String[] s1 = { "Hi", "How are you ?", "I am also doing fine!" };
public T1(Chat m1) {
this.m = m1;
new Thread(this, "Question").start();
}
public void run() {
for (int i = 0; i < s1.length; i++) {
m.Question(s1[i]);
}
}
}
class T2 implements Runnable {
Chat m;
String[] s2 = { "Hi", "I am good, what about you?", "Great!" };
public T2(Chat m2) {
this.m = m2;
new Thread(this, "Answer").start();
}
public void run() {
for (int i = 0; i < s2.length; i++) {
m.Answer(s2[i]);
}
}
}
public class TestThread {
public static void main(String[] args) {
Chat m = new Chat();
new T1(m);
new T2(m);
}
}

When above program is complied and executed, it produces following result:

Hi
Hi
How are you ?
I am good, what about you?
I am also doing fine!
Great!

Above example has been taken and then modified from [http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2170520/inter-thread-communication-in-java]

Handling threads deadlock

Deadlock describes a situation where two or more threads are blocked forever, waiting for each other. Deadlock occurs when multiple threads need the same locks but obtain them in different order. A Java multithreaded program may suffer from the deadlock condition because the synchronized keyword causes the executing thread to block while waiting for the lock, or monitor, associated with the specified object. Here is an example:

Example:

public class TestThread {
public static Object Lock1 = new Object();
public static Object Lock2 = new Object();
public static void main(String args[]) {
ThreadDemo1 T1 = new ThreadDemo1();
ThreadDemo2 T2 = new ThreadDemo2();
T1.start();
T2.start();
}
private static class ThreadDemo1 extends Thread {
public void run() {
synchronized (Lock1) {
System.out.println("Thread 1: Holding lock 1...");
try { Thread.sleep(10); }
catch (InterruptedException e) {}
System.out.println("Thread 1: Waiting for lock 2...");
synchronized (Lock2) {
System.out.println("Thread 1: Holding lock 1 & 2...");
}
}
}
}
private static class ThreadDemo2 extends Thread {
public void run() {
synchronized (Lock2) {
System.out.println("Thread 2: Holding lock 2...");
try { Thread.sleep(10); }
catch (InterruptedException e) {}
System.out.println("Thread 2: Waiting for lock 1...");
synchronized (Lock1) {
System.out.println("Thread 2: Holding lock 1 & 2...");
}
}
}
}
}

When you compile and execute above program, you find a deadlock situation and below is the output produced by the program:

Thread 1: Holding lock 1...
Thread 2: Holding lock 2...
Thread 1: Waiting for lock 2...
Thread 2: Waiting for lock 1...

Above program will hang forever because neither of the threads in position to proceed and waiting for each other to release the lock, so you can come out of the program by pressing CTRL-C.

DeadlockSolutionExample:

Let's change the order of the lock and run the same program to see if still both the threads waits for each other:

public class TestThread {
public static Object Lock1 = new Object();
public static Object Lock2 = new Object();
public static void main(String args[]) {
ThreadDemo1 T1 = new ThreadDemo1();
ThreadDemo2 T2 = new ThreadDemo2();
T1.start();
T2.start();
}
private static class ThreadDemo1 extends Thread {
public void run() {
synchronized (Lock1) {
System.out.println("Thread 1: Holding lock 1...");
try { Thread.sleep(10); }
catch (InterruptedException e) {}
System.out.println("Thread 1: Waiting for lock 2...");
synchronized (Lock2) {
System.out.println("Thread 1: Holding lock 1 & 2...");
}
}
}
}
private static class ThreadDemo2 extends Thread {
public void run() {
synchronized (Lock1) {
System.out.println("Thread 2: Holding lock 1...");
try { Thread.sleep(10); }
catch (InterruptedException e) {}
System.out.println("Thread 2: Waiting for lock 2...");
synchronized (Lock2) {
System.out.println("Thread 2: Holding lock 1 & 2...");
}
}
}
}
}

So just changing the order of the locks prevent the program in going deadlock situation and completes with the following result:

Thread 1: Holding lock 1...
Thread 1: Waiting for lock 2...
Thread 1: Holding lock 1 & 2...
Thread 2: Holding lock 1...
Thread 2: Waiting for lock 2...
Thread 2: Holding lock 1 & 2...

Above example has been shown just for making you the concept clear, but its a more complex concept and you should deep dive into it before you develop your applications to deal with deadlock situations.

Major thread operatios

Core Java provides a complete control over multithreaded program. You can develop a multithreaded program which can be suspended, resumed or stopped completely based on your requirements. There are various static methods which you can use on thread objects to control their behavior. Following table lists down those methods:
SNMethods with Description
1public void suspend()
This method puts a thread in suspended state and can be resumed using resume() method.
2public void stop()
This method stops a thread completely.
3public void resume()
This method resumes a thread which was suspended using suspend() method.
4public void wait()
Causes the current thread to wait until another thread invokes the notify().
5public void notify()
Wakes up a single thread that is waiting on this object's monitor.
Be aware that latest versions of Java has deprecated the usage of suspend( ), resume( ), and stop( ) methods and so you need to use available alternatives.

Example:

class RunnableDemo implements Runnable {
public Thread t;
private String threadName;
boolean suspended = false;
RunnableDemo( String name){
threadName = name; threadName );
System.out.println("Creating " +
}
public void run() { threadName );
System.out.println("Running " +
try {
for(int i = 10; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Thread: " + threadName + ", " + i);
// Let the thread sleep for a while.
Thread.sleep(300);
synchronized(this) {
while(suspended) {
wait();
}
}
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Thread " + threadName + " exiting.");
}
public void start ()
{
System.out.println("Starting " + threadName );
if (t == null)
{
t = new Thread (this, threadName);
t.start ();
}
}
void suspend() {
suspended = true;
}
synchronized void resume() {
suspended = false;
notify();
}
}
public class TestThread {
public static void main(String args[]) {
RunnableDemo R1 = new RunnableDemo( "Thread-1");
R1.start();
RunnableDemo R2 = new RunnableDemo( "Thread-2");
R2.start();
try {
Thread.sleep(1000);
R1.suspend();
System.out.println("Suspending First Thread");
Thread.sleep(1000);
R1.resume();
System.out.println("Resuming First Thread");
R2.suspend();
System.out.println("Suspending thread Two");
Thread.sleep(1000);
R2.resume();
System.out.println("Resuming thread Two"); }
catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Main thread Interrupted");
}
try {
System.out.println("Waiting for threads to finish.");
R1.t.join();
R2.t.join();
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Main thread Interrupted");
}
System.out.println("Main thread exiting.");
}
}

Here is the output produced by the above program:

Creating Thread-1
Starting Thread-1
Creating Thread-2
Starting Thread-2
Running Thread-1
Thread: Thread-1, 10
Running Thread-2
Thread: Thread-2, 10
Thread: Thread-1, 9
Thread: Thread-2, 9
Thread: Thread-1, 8
Thread: Thread-2, 8
Thread: Thread-1, 7
Thread: Thread-2, 7
Suspending First Thread
Thread: Thread-2, 6
Thread: Thread-2, 5
Thread: Thread-2, 4
Resuming First Thread
Suspending thread Two
Thread: Thread-1, 6
Thread: Thread-1, 5
Thread: Thread-1, 4
Thread: Thread-1, 3
Resuming thread Two
Thread: Thread-2, 3
Waiting for threads to finish.
Thread: Thread-1, 2
Thread: Thread-2, 2
Thread: Thread-1, 1
Thread: Thread-2, 1
Thread Thread-1 exiting.
Thread Thread-2 exiting.
Main thread exiting.
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