Threads


 Thread is a flow of control within a program. A thread is similar to the more familiar notion of a process, except that multiple threads within the same application share much of the same state--in particular, they run in the same address space. It's not unlike a golf course, which can be used by many players at the same time. Sharing the same address space means that threads share instance variables, but not local variables, just like players share the golf course, but not personal things like clubs and balls.
Multiple threads in an application have the same problems as the players sharing a golf course: in a word, synchronization. Just as you can't have two sets of players blindly playing the same green at the same time, you can't have several threads trying to access the same variables without some kind of coordination. Someone is bound to get hurt. A thread can reserve the right to use an object until it's finished with its task, just as a golf party gets exclusive rights to the green until it's done. And a thread that is more important can raise its priority, asserting its right to play through.
The devil is in the details, or course, and those details have historically made threads difficult to use. Java makes creating, controlling, and coordinating threads simple. When creating a new thread is the best way to accomplish some task, it should be as easy as adding a new component to your application.
It is common to stumble over threads when you first look at them, because creating a thread exercises many of your new Java skills all at once. You can avoid confusion by remembering there are always two players involved in running a thread: a Java language object that represents the thread itself and an arbitrary target object that contains the method the thread is to execute. Later, you will see that it is possible to play some sleight of hand and combine these two roles, but that special case just changes the packaging, not the relationship.

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.
Java 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 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.

Creating a Thread:

Java defines two ways in which this can be accomplished:
  • You can implement the Runnable interface.
  • You can extend the Thread class, itself.

Create Thread by Implementing Runnable:

The easiest way to create a thread is to create a class that implements the Runnable interface.
To implement Runnable, a class need only implement a single method called run( ), which is declared like this:
public void run( )
You will define the code that constitutes the new thread inside run() method. It is important to understand that run() can call other methods, use other classes, and declare variables, just like the main thread can.
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);
Here threadOb is an instance of a class that implements the Runnable interface and 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. The start( ) method is shown here:
void start( );

Example:

Here is an example that creates a new thread and starts it running:
// Create a new 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);
            // Let the thread sleep for a while.
            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.");
   }
}
This would produce following result:
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.

Create Thread by 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.

Example:

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);
			// Let the thread sleep for a while.
            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 would produce following result:
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.



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