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Lean Concurrency in Java 8

Lukas Eder
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Lambdas and improved APIs in Java 8 will make writing concurrent code that little bit easier. Let’s take a closer look.

This post was originally published over at jooq.org as part of a special series focusing on all things Java 8, including how take advantage of lambda expressions, extension methods, and other great stuff. You’ll find the source code on GitHub.

Lean Concurrency in Java 8

Someone once said that (unfortunately, we don’t have the source anymore):

Junior programmers think concurrency is hard.
Experienced programmers think concurrency is easy.
Senior programmers think concurrency is hard.

That is quite true. But on the bright side, Java 8 will at least improve things by making it easier to write concurrent code with lambdas and the many improved APIs. Let’s have a closer look:

Java 8 improving on JDK 1.0 API

java.lang.Thread has been around from the very beginning in JDK 1.0. So has java.lang.Runnable, which is going to be annotated withFunctionalInterface in Java 8.

It is almost a no-brainer how we can finally submit Runnables to a Threadfrom now on. Let’s assume we have a long-running operation:

public static int longOperation() {
    System.out.println("Running on thread #"
       + Thread.currentThread().getId());
 
    // [...]
    return 42;
}

We can then pass this operation to Threads in various ways, e.g.

Thread[] threads = {
 
    // Pass a lambda to a thread
    new Thread(() -> {
        longOperation();
    }),
 
    // Pass a method reference to a thread
    new Thread(ThreadGoodies::longOperation)
};
 
// Start all threads
Arrays.stream(threads).forEach(Thread::start);
 
// Join all threads
Arrays.stream(threads).forEach(t -> {
    try { t.join(); }
    catch (InterruptedException ignore) {}
});

As we’ve mentioned in our previous blog post, it’s a shame that lambda expressions did not find a lean way to work around checked exceptions. None of the newly added functional interfaces in the java.util.functionpackage allow for throwing checked exceptions, leaving the work up to the call-site.

In our last post, we’ve thus publishedjOOλ (also jOOL, jOO-Lambda), which wraps each one of the JDK’s
functional interfaces in an equivalent functional interface that allows for throwing checked exceptions. This is particularly useful with old JDK APIs, such as JDBC, or the above Thread API. With jOOλ, we can then write:

// Join all threads
Arrays.stream(threads).forEach(Unchecked.consumer(
    t -> t.join()
));

Java 8 improving on Java 5 API

Java’s multi-threading APIs had been pretty dormant up until the release of Java 5′s awesome ExecutorService. Managing threads had been a burden, and people needed external libraries or a J2EE / JEE container to manage thread pools. This has gotten a lot easier with Java 5. We can nowsubmit a Runnable or a Callable to an ExecutorService, which manages its own thread-pool.

Here’s an example how we can leverage these Java 5 concurrency APIs in Java 8:

ExecutorService service = Executors
    .newFixedThreadPool(5);
 
Future[] answers = {
    service.submit(() -> longOperation()),
    service.submit(ThreadGoodies::longOperation)
};
 
Arrays.stream(answers).forEach(Unchecked.consumer(
    f -> System.out.println(f.get())
));

Note, how we again use an UncheckedConsumer from jOOλ to wrap the checked exception thrown from the get() call in a RuntimeException.

Parallelism and ForkJoinPool in Java 8

Now, the Java 8 Streams API changes a lot of things in terms of concurrency and parallelism. In Java 8, you can write the following, for instance:

Arrays.stream(new int[]{ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 })
      .parallel()
      .max()
      .ifPresent(System.out::println);
While it isn’t necessary in this particular case, it’s still interesting to see that the mere calling of parallel() will run the IntStream.max()ForkJoinPoolwithout you having to worry about the involved ForkJoinTasks. This can be really useful, as not everybody welcomed the JDK 7 ForkJoin API the complexity it has introduced.

Read more about Java 8′s parallel streams in this interesting InfoQ article.

Author
Lukas Eder
Lukas is a Java and SQL aficionado. He’s the founder and head of R&D at Data Geekery GmbH (datageekery.com), the company behind jOOQ (jooq.org) , the best way to write SQL in Java.
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