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CHAPTER-8(MultiThreading)              

                     BOTTOM

 

The Thread Class and the Runnable Interface

Java’s multithreading system is built upon the Thread class, its methods, and its companion interface, Runnable. Thread encapsulates a thread of execution. Since you can’t directly refer to the state of a running thread, you will deal with it through its proxy, the Thread instance that spawned it. To create a new thread, your program will either extend Thread or implement the Runnable interface. The Thread class defines several methods that help manage threads. The ones that will be used in this chapter are shown here: Method getName Obtain a thread’s name. getPriority Obtain a thread’s priority. isAlive Determine if a thread is still running. join Wait for a thread to terminate. run Entry point for the thread. sleep Suspend a thread for a period of time. start Start a thread by calling its run method. Thus far, all the examples in this book have used a single thread of execution. The remainder of this chapter explains how to use Thread and Runnable to create and manage threads, beginning with the one thread that all Java programs have: the main thread

The Main Thread

When a Java program starts up, one thread begins running immediately. This is usually called the main thread of your program, because it is the one that is executed when your program begins. The main thread is important for two reasons:
■ It is the thread from which other “child” threads will be spawned.
■ Often it must be the last thread to finish execution because it performs various shutdown actions.

Although the main thread is created automatically when your program is started, it can be controlled through a Thread object. To do so, you must obtain a reference to it by calling the method currentThread( ), which is a public static member of Thread. Its general form is shown here:

static Thread currentThread( )

This method returns a reference to the thread in which it is called. Once you have a reference to the main thread, you can control it just like any other thread. Let’s begin by reviewing the following example:

// Controlling the main Thread.
class CurrentThreadDemo {
public static void main(String args[]) {
Thread t = Thread.currentThread();
System.out.println("Current thread: " + t);
// change the name of the thread
t.setName("My Thread");
System.out.println("After name change: " + t);
try {
for(int n = 5; n > 0; n--) {
System.out.println(n);
Thread.sleep(1000);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Main thread interrupted");
}
}
}

In this program, a reference to the current thread (the main thread, in this case) is obtained by calling currentThread( ), and this reference is stored in the local variable t. Next, the program displays information about the thread. The program then calls setName( ) to change the internal name of the thread. Information about the thread is then redisplayed. Next, a loop counts down from five, pausing one second between each line. The pause is accomplished by the sleep( ) method. The argument to sleep( ) specifies the delay period in milliseconds. Notice the try/catch block around this loop. The sleep( ) method in Thread might throw an InterruptedException. This would happen if some other thread wanted to interrupt this sleeping one. This example just prints a message if it gets interrupted. In a real program, you would need to handle this differently.

Here is the output generated by this program:

Current thread: Thread[main,5,main]
After name change: Thread[My Thread,5,main]
5
4
3
2
1

Notice the output produced when t is used as an argument to println( ). This displays, in order: the name of the thread, its priority, and the name of its group. By default, the name of the main thread is main. Its priority is 5, which is the default value, and main is also the name of the group of threads to which this thread belongs. A thread group is a data structure that controls the state of a collection of threads as a whole. This process is managed by the particular run-time environment and is not discussed in detail here. After the name of the thread is changed, t is again output. This time, the new name of the thread is displayed. Let’s look more closely at the methods defined by Thread that are used in the program. The sleep( ) method causes the thread from which it is called to suspend execution for the specified period of milliseconds. Its general form is shown here:

static void sleep(long milliseconds) throws InterruptedException

The number of milliseconds to suspend is specified in milliseconds. This method may throw an InterruptedException. The sleep( ) method has a second form, shown next, which allows you to specify the period in terms of milliseconds and nanoseconds: static void sleep(long milliseconds, int nanoseconds) throws InterruptedException This second form is useful only in environments that allow timing periods as short as nanoseconds. As the preceding program shows, you can set the name of a thread by using setName( ). You can obtain the name of a thread by calling getName( ) (but note that this procedure is not shown in the program). These methods are members of the Thread class and are declared like this:

final void setName(String threadName)
final String getName( )

Here, threadName specifies the name of the thread.

 

Creating a Thread

In the most general sense, you create a thread by instantiating an object of type Thread. Java defines two ways in which this can be accomplished:

■ You can implement the Runnable interface.
■ You can extend the Thread class, itself.

The following two sections look at each method, in turn. Implementing Runnable The easiest way to create a thread is to create a class that implements the Runnable interface. Runnable abstracts a unit of executable code. You can construct a thread on any object that implements Runnable. To implement Runnable, a class need only
implement a single method called run( ), which is declared like this:

public void run( )

Inside run( ), you will define the code that constitutes the new thread. It is important to understand that run( ) can call other methods, use other classes, and declare variables, just like the main thread can. The only difference is that run( ) establishes the entry point for another, concurrent thread of execution within your program. This thread will end when run( ) returns. After you create a class that implements Runnable, you will instantiate an object of type Thread from within that class. Thread defines several constructors. The one that we will use is shown here:

Thread(Runnable threadOb, String threadName)

In this constructor, threadOb is an instance of a class that implements the Runnable interface. This defines where execution of the thread will begin. The name of the new thread is specified by threadName. After the new thread is created, it will not start running until you call its start( ) method, which is declared within Thread. In essence, start( ) executes a call to run( ). The start( ) method is shown here:

void start( )

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


// Create a second thread.
class NewThread implements Runnable {
Thread t;
NewThread() {
// Create a new, second thread
t = new Thread(this, "Demo Thread");
System.out.println("Child thread: " + t);
t.start(); // Start the thread
}
// This is the entry point for the second thread.
public void run() {
try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Child Thread: " + i);
Thread.sleep(500);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Child interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Exiting child thread.");
}
}
class ThreadDemo {
public static void main(String args[]) {
new NewThread(); // create a new thread
try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Main Thread: " + i);
Thread.sleep(1000);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Main thread interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Main thread exiting.");
}
}

Inside NewThread’s constructor, a new Thread object is created by the following statement:

t = new Thread(this, "Demo Thread");

Passing this as the first argument indicates that you want the new thread to call the run( ) method on this object. Next, start( ) is called, which starts the thread of execution beginning at the run( ) method. This causes the child thread’s for loop to begin. After calling start( ), NewThread’s constructor returns to main( ). When the main thread resumes, it enters its for loop. Both threads continue running, sharing the CPU, until their loops finish.

The output produced by this program is as follows:

Child thread: Thread[Demo Thread,5,main]
Main Thread: 5
Child Thread: 5
Child Thread: 4
Main Thread: 4
Child Thread: 3
Child Thread: 2
Main Thread: 3
Child Thread: 1
Exiting child thread.
Main Thread: 2
Main Thread: 1
Main thread exiting.

As mentioned earlier, in a multithreaded program, often the main thread must be the last thread to finish running. In fact, for some older JVMs, if the main thread finishes before a child thread has completed, then the Java run-time system may “hang.” The preceding program ensures that the main thread finishes last, because the main thread sleeps for 1,000 milliseconds between iterations, but the child thread sleeps for only 500 milliseconds. This causes the child thread to terminate earlier than the main thread. Shortly, you will see a better way to wait for a thread to finish.

 

Extending Thread

The second way to create a thread is to create a new class that extends Thread, and then to create an instance of that class. The extending class must override the run( ) method, which is the entry point for the new thread. It must also call start( ) to begin execution of the new thread. Here is the preceding program rewritten to extend Thread:


// Create a second thread by extending Thread
class NewThread extends Thread {
NewThread() {
// Create a new, second thread
super("Demo Thread");
System.out.println("Child thread: " + this);
start(); // Start the thread
}
// This is the entry point for the second thread.
public void run() {
try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Child Thread: " + i);
Thread.sleep(500);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Child interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Exiting child thread.");
}
}
class ExtendThread {
public static void main(String args[]) {
new NewThread(); // create a new thread
try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println("Main Thread: " + i);
Thread.sleep(1000);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Main thread interrupted.");
}
System.out.println("Main thread exiting.");
}
}

This program generates the same output as the preceding version. As you can see, the child thread is created by instantiating an object of NewThread, which is derived from Thread. Notice the call to super( ) inside NewThread. This invokes the following form of the Thread constructor:

public Thread(String threadName)

Here, threadName specifies the name of the thread.

 

Choosing an Approach

At this point, you might be wondering why Java has two ways to create child threads, and which approach is better. The answers to these questions turn on the same point. The Thread class defines several methods that can be overridden by a derived class. Of these methods, the only one that must be overridden is run( ). This is, of course, the same method required when you implement Runnable. Many Java programmers feel that classes should be extended only when they are being enhanced or modified in some way. So, if you will not be overriding any of Thread’s other methods, it is probably best simply to implement Runnable. This is up to you, of course. However, throughout the rest of this chapter, we will create threads by using classes that implement Runnable.

 

Creating Multiple Threads

So far, you have been using only two threads: the main thread and one child thread. However, your program can spawn as many threads as it needs. For example, the following program creates three child threads:

// Create multiple threads.
class NewThread implements Runnable {
String name; // name of thread
Thread t;
NewThread(String threadname) {
name = threadname;
t = new Thread(this, name);
System.out.println("New thread: " + t);
t.start(); // Start the thread
}
// This is the entry point for thread.
public void run() {
try {
for(int i = 5; i > 0; i--) {
System.out.println(name + ": " + i);
Thread.sleep(1000);
}
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println(name + "Interrupted");
}
System.out.println(name + " exiting.");
}
}
class MultiThreadDemo {
public static void main(String args[]) {
new NewThread("One"); // start threads
new NewThread("Two");
new NewThread("Three");

try {
// wait for other threads to end
Thread.sleep(10000);
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Main thread Interrupted");
}
System.out.println("Main thread exiting.");
}
}

The output from this program is shown here:

New thread: Thread[One,5,main]
New thread: Thread[Two,5,main]
New thread: Thread[Three,5,main]
One: 5
Two: 5
Three: 5
One: 4
Two: 4
Three: 4
One: 3
Three: 3
Two: 3
One: 2
Three: 2
Two: 2
One: 1
Three: 1
Two: 1
One exiting.
Two exiting.
Three exiting.
Main thread exiting.

As you can see, once started, all three child threads share the CPU. Notice the call to sleep(10000) in main( ). This causes the main thread to sleep for ten seconds and ensures that it will finish last.

 

Synchronization

When two or more threads need access to a shared resource, they need some way to ensure that the resource will be used by only one thread at a time. The process by which this is achieved is called synchronization. As you will see, Java provides unique, language-level support for it. Key to synchronization is the concept of the monitor (also called a semaphore). A monitor is an object that is used as a mutually exclusive lock, or mutex. Only one thread can own a monitor at a given time. When a thread acquires a lock, it is said to have entered the monitor. All other threads attempting to enter the locked monitor will be suspended until the first thread exits the monitor. These other threads are said to be waiting for the monitor. A thread that owns a monitor can reenter the same monitor if it so desires.

 

Using Synchronized Methods

Synchronization is easy in Java, because all objects have their own implicit monitor associated with them. To enter an object’s monitor, just call a method that has been modified with the synchronized keyword. While a thread is inside a synchronized method, all other threads that try to call it (or any other synchronized method) on the same instance have to wait. To exit the monitor and relinquish control of the object to the next waiting thread, the owner of the monitor simply returns from the synchronized method.To understand the need for synchronization, let’s begin with a simple example that does not use it—but should. The following program has three simple classes. The first one, Callme, has a single method named call( ). The call( ) method takes a String parameter called msg. This method tries to print the msg string inside of square brackets. The interesting thing to notice is that after call( ) prints the opening bracket and the msg string, it calls Thread.sleep(1000), which pauses the current thread for one second.
The constructor of the next class, Caller, takes a reference to an instance of the Callme class and a String, which are stored in target and msg, respectively. The constructor also creates a new thread that will call this object’s run( ) method. The thread is started immediately. The run( ) method of Caller calls the call( ) method on the target instance of Callme, passing in the msg string. Finally, the Synch class starts by creating a single instance of Callme, and three instances of Caller, each with a unique message string. The same instance of Callme is passed to each Caller.

// This program is not synchronized.
class Callme {
void call(String msg) {
System.out.print("[" + msg);
try {
Thread.sleep(1000);
} catch(InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Interrupted");
}
System.out.println("]");
}
}
class Caller implements Runnable {
String msg;
Callme target;
Thread t;
public Caller(Callme targ, String s) {
target = targ;
msg = s;
t = new Thread(this);
t.start();
}
public void run() {
target.call(msg);
}

}
class Synch {
public static void main(String args[]) {
Callme target = new Callme();
Caller ob1 = new Caller(target, "Hello");
Caller ob2 = new Caller(target, "Synchronized");
Caller ob3 = new Caller(target, "World");
// wait for threads to end
try {
ob1.t.join();
ob2.t.join();
ob3.t.join();
} catch(InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Interrupted");
}
}
}

Here is the output produced by this program:

 [Hello[Synchronized[World]
]
]

As you can see, by calling sleep( ), the call( ) method allows execution to switch to another thread. This results in the mixed-up output of the three message strings. In this program, nothing exists to stop all three threads from calling the same method, on the same object, at the same time. This is known as a race condition, because the three threads are racing each other to complete the method. This example used sleep( ) to make the effects repeatable and obvious. In most situations, a race condition is more subtle and less predictable, because you can’t be sure when the context switch will occur. This can cause a program to run right one time and wrong the next.
To fix the preceding program, you must serialize access to call( ). That is, you must restrict its access to only one thread at a time. To do this, you simply need to precede call( )’s definition with the keyword synchronized, as shown here:

class Callme {
synchronized void call(String msg) {

...



This prevents other threads from entering call( ) while another thread is using it. After synchronized has been added to call( ), the output of the program is as follows:

[Hello]
[Synchronized]
[World]

Any time that you have a method, or group of methods, that manipulates the internal state of an object in a multithreaded situation, you should use the synchronized keyword to guard the state from race conditions. Remember, once a thread enters any synchronized method on an instance, no other thread can enter any other synchronized method on the same instance. However, nonsynchronized methods on that instance
will continue to be callable.

 

The synchronized Statement

While creating synchronized methods within classes that you create is an easy and effective means of achieving synchronization, it will not work in all cases. To understand why, consider the following. Imagine that you want to synchronize access to objects of a class that was not designed for multithreaded access. That is, the class does not use synchronized methods. Further, this class was not created by you, but by a third party, and you do not have access to the source code. Thus, you can’t add synchronized to the appropriate methods within the class. How can access to an object of this class be synchronized? Fortunately, the solution to this problem is quite easy: You simply put calls to the methods defined by this class inside a synchronized block.

This is the general form of the synchronized statement:

synchronized(object) {
// statements to be synchronized
}

Here, object is a reference to the object being synchronized. A synchronized block ensures that a call to a method that is a member of object occurs only after the current thread has successfully entered object’s monitor.
Here is an alternative version of the preceding example, using a synchronized block within the run( ) method:

// This program uses a synchronized block.
class Callme {
void call(String msg) {
System.out.print("[" + msg);
try {

Thread.sleep(1000);
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
System.out.println("Interrupted");
}
System.out.println("]");
}
}
class Caller implements Runnable {
String msg;
Callme target;
Thread t;
public Caller(Callme targ, String s) {
target = targ;
msg = s;
t = new Thread(this);
t.start();
}
// synchronize calls to call()
public void run() {
synchronized(target) { // synchronized block
target.call(msg);
}
}
}
class Synch1 {
public static void main(String args[]) {
Callme target = new Callme();
Caller ob1 = new Caller(target, "Hello");
Caller ob2 = new Caller(target, "Synchronized");
Caller ob3 = new Caller(target, "World");
// wait for threads to end
try {
ob1.t.join();
ob2.t.join();
ob3.t.join();
} catch(InterruptedException e) {

System.out.println("Interrupted");
}
}
}

Here, the call( ) method is not modified by synchronized. Instead, the synchronized statement is used inside Caller’s run( ) method. This causes the same correct output as the preceding example, because each thread waits for the prior one to finish before proceeding.

 

 

 

 

 




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