Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thread.State in Java? BLOCKED vs WAITING

What is Thread.State in Java? What's it used for?

Thread.State - This is a static nested class (Read more about nested classes in the article - Nested Classes & Inner Classes in Java >>) of the Thread class. This is one of the additions of Java 5 and this class actually inherits the abstract class Enum which is the common base class of all Java language enumeration types i.e., Thread.State is actually is actually an enumeration type.

Thread.State enumeration contains the possible states of a Java thread in the underlying JVM. These states are different from the Operating System thread states. The possible values of the Thread.State are:-

  • NEW - this state represents a new thread which is not yet started.
  • RUNNABLE - this state represents a thread which is executing in the underlying JVM. Here executing in JVM doesn't mean that the thread is always executing in the OS as well - it may wait for a resource from the Operating system like the processor while being in this state.
  • BLOCKED - this state represents a thread which has been blocked and is waiting for a moniotor to enter/re-enter a synchronized block/method. A thread gets into this state after calling Object.wait method.
  • WAITING - this state represnts a thread in the waiting state and this wait is over only when some other thread performs some appropriate action. A thread can get into this state either by calling - Object.wait (without timeout), Thread.join (without timeout), or LockSupport.park methods.
  • TIMED_WAITING - this state represents a thread which is required to wait at max for a specified time limit. A thread can get into this state by calling either of these methods: Thread.sleep, Object.wait (with timeout specified), Thread.join (with timeout specified), LockSupport.parkNanos, LockSupport.parkUntil
  • TERMINATED - this state reprents a thread which has completed its execution either by returning from the run() method after completing the execution OR by throwing an exception which propagated from the run() method and hence caused the termination of the thread.
Difference between BLOCKED state and WAITING / TIMED_WAITING states?

When a thread calls Object.wait method, it releases all the acquired monitors and is put into WAITING (or TIMED_WAITING if we call the timeout versions of the wait method) state. Now when the thread is notified either by notify() or by notifyAll() call on the same object then the waiting state of the thread ends and the thread starts attempting to regain all the monitors which it had acquired at the time of wait call. At one time there may be several threads trying to regain (or maybe gain for the first time) their monitors. If more than one threads attempt to acquire the monitor of a particular object then only one thread (selected by the JVM scheduler) is granted the monitor and all other threads are put into BLOCKED state. Got the difference?

Difference between WAITING and TIMED_WAITING states?

The difference is quite obvious between the two. A thread in a TIMED_WAITING state will wait at max for the specified timeout period whereas a thread in the WAITING state keeps waiting for an indefinite period of time. For example, if a thread has called Object.wait method to put itself into WAITING state then it'll keep waiting until the thread is interrupted either by notify() method (OR by notifyAll() method) call on the same object by another thread. Similarly, if a thread has put itself into WAITING state by calling Thread.join method then it'll keep waiting until the specified thread terminates.

We can easily figure out that a thread in a WAITING state will always be dependent on an action performed by some other thread whereas a thread in TIMED_WAITING is not completely dependent on an action performed by some other thread as in this case the wait ends automatically after the completion of the timeout period.


No comments: