Overview of Threads in Java

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A thread is an independent sequential path of execution within a program Many threads can run concurrently within a program At runtime, threads in a program exist in a common memory space and can, therefore, share both data and code (ie, they are lightweight compared to processes) They also share the process running the program Every thread in Java is created and controlled by a unique object of the javalangThread class Often the thread and its associated Thread object are thought of as being synonymous
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134: THREAD CREATION
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Threads make the runtime environment asynchronous, allowing different tasks to be performed concurrently Using this powerful paradigm in Java centers around understanding the following aspects of multithreaded programming: creating threads and providing the code that gets executed by a thread (see Section 134, p 615) accessing common data and code through synchronization (see Section 135, p 626) transitioning between thread states (see Section 136, p 634)
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133 The Main Thread
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The runtime environment distinguishes between user threads and daemon threads As long as a user thread is alive, the JVM does not terminate A daemon thread is at the mercy of the runtime system: it is stopped if there are no more user threads running, thus terminating the program Daemon threads exist only to serve user threads When a standalone application is run, a user thread is automatically created to execute the main() method of the application This thread is called the main thread If no other user threads are spawned, the program terminates when the main() method finishes executing All other threads, called child threads, are spawned from the main thread, inheriting its user-thread status The main() method can then finish, but the program will keep running until all user threads have completed Calling the setDaemon(boolean) method in the Thread class marks the status of the thread as either daemon or user, but this must be done before the thread is started Any attempt to change the status after the thread has been started, throws an IllegalThreadStateException Marking all spawned threads as daemon threads ensures that the application terminates when the main thread dies When a GUI application is started, a special thread is automatically created to monitor the user GUI interaction This user thread keeps the program running, allowing interaction between the user and the GUI, even though the main thread might have completed after the main() method finished executing
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134 Thread Creation
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A thread in Java is represented by an object of the Thread class Implementing threads is achieved in one of two ways: implementing the javalangRunnable interface extending the javalangThread class
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CHAPTER 13: THREADS
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Implementing the Runnable Interface
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The Runnable interface has the following specification, comprising one abstract method declaration:
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A thread, which is created based on an object that implements the Runnable interface, will execute the code defined in the public method run() In other words, the code in the run() method defines an independent path of execution and thereby the entry and the exits for the thread A thread ends when the run() method ends, either by normal completion or by throwing an uncaught exception The procedure for creating threads based on the Runnable interface is as follows: 1 2 A class implements the Runnable interface, providing the run() method that will be executed by the thread An object of this class is a Runnable object An object of the Thread class is created by passing a Runnable object as an argument in the Thread constructor call The Thread object now has a Runnable object that implements the run() method The start() method is invoked on the Thread object created in the previous step The start() method returns immediately after a thread has been spawned In other words, the call to the start() method is asynchronous
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When the thread, represented by the Thread object on which the start() method was invoked, gets to run, it executes the run() method of the Runnable object This sequence of events is illustrated in Figure 131
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