Java Threads

  1. Creating Java threads
  2. Starting and stopping Java threads - exercise #0
  3. Naming Java threads - exercises #1 #2

Creating Java threads

In Java, there are two ways to create threaded programs:

  1. extend the Thread class:
          class MyThread extends Thread { 
  2. implement the interface Runnable:
          class MyThread implements Runnable { 
Either of these two approaches may be used. Sometimes it is not possible to extend the Thread class, because you must extend some other class. In programming applets, for example, you must extend the Applet class. Remember that Java does not support multiple inheritance. In those cases where it is not possible to extend the Thread class, you need to implement the Runnable interface.

In this lab we are using the first approach, that extends the Thread class. To create new threads in this case, simply use:

      MyThread t = new MyThread(); 

Starting and stopping Java threads

The Thread class has three primary methods that are used to control a thread:

      public void start()
      public void run()
      public final void stop()

The start() method prepares a thread to be run; the run() method actually performs the work of the thread - it serves as the main routine for the thread; and the stop() method halts the thread. The thread dies when the run() method terminates or when the thread's stop() method is invoked.

The class that extends Thread must redefine the run() method of Thread. To start the thread actually running, you do not invoke the run() method. Rather, you invoke the start() method on your object:

The run() method is called automatically at runtime as necessary, once you have called start(). To stop a thread t, you may call
However, it is recommended to never stop a thread using the stop method (deprecated because it is not thread-safe). Let a thread stop when the thread function returns, and determine when the thread function should return using boolean variables as necessary.

Exercise 0. Log into tanner. Create a directory called javathreads in your account and download this simple multithreaded code into the javathreads directory. Compile (javac and run (java TestThread0) the example and observe the output.

Naming Java threads

It is often useful to give different threads in the same class names, so you can tell them apart. The constructor that allows you to do that is:
      public Thread(String name)
This is normally called from the constructor of a subclass (your own), like this:
      class MyThread extends Thread {
            MyThread(String name) {

            public void run() {
The getName() method of the Thread class returns the name of the thread. The following program now distinguishes the output of different threads:
      public class NamedThreadsTest {
            public static void main(String[] args) {
                  MyThread first   = new MyThread("First ...");
                  MyThread second  = new MyThread("Second ...");
                  MyThread third   = new MyThread("Third ..."); 
Exercise 1. Create a directory called javathreads in your Unix directory and download this simple multithreaded code into the javathreads directory. Compile (using javac) and run (using java) the code and observe the output.

Exercise 2. Write a program that takes a positive integer n from the command line and creates exactly n threads that print out their own name. Here is a sample execution:

    bash$ java TestThreadMany 4

    Hello, I am Thread #1
    Hello, I am Thread #2
    Hello, I am Thread #3
    Hello, I am Thread #4
Hint: Use the code as guidance.