Java™ Platform
Standard Ed. 7

Package java.util.concurrent

Utility classes commonly useful in concurrent programming.

See: Description

Package java.util.concurrent Description

Utility classes commonly useful in concurrent programming. This package includes a few small standardized extensible frameworks, as well as some classes that provide useful functionality and are otherwise tedious or difficult to implement. Here are brief descriptions of the main components. See also the java.util.concurrent.locks and java.util.concurrent.atomic packages.


Interfaces. Executor is a simple standardized interface for defining custom thread-like subsystems, including thread pools, asynchronous IO, and lightweight task frameworks. Depending on which concrete Executor class is being used, tasks may execute in a newly created thread, an existing task-execution thread, or the thread calling execute, and may execute sequentially or concurrently. ExecutorService provides a more complete asynchronous task execution framework. An ExecutorService manages queuing and scheduling of tasks, and allows controlled shutdown. The ScheduledExecutorService subinterface and associated interfaces add support for delayed and periodic task execution. ExecutorServices provide methods arranging asynchronous execution of any function expressed as Callable, the result-bearing analog of Runnable. A Future returns the results of a function, allows determination of whether execution has completed, and provides a means to cancel execution. A RunnableFuture is a Future that possesses a run method that upon execution, sets its results.

Implementations. Classes ThreadPoolExecutor and ScheduledThreadPoolExecutor provide tunable, flexible thread pools. The Executors class provides factory methods for the most common kinds and configurations of Executors, as well as a few utility methods for using them. Other utilities based on Executors include the concrete class FutureTask providing a common extensible implementation of Futures, and ExecutorCompletionService, that assists in coordinating the processing of groups of asynchronous tasks.

Class ForkJoinPool provides an Executor primarily designed for processing instances of ForkJoinTask and its subclasses. These classes employ a work-stealing scheduler that attains high throughput for tasks conforming to restrictions that often hold in computation-intensive parallel processing.


The ConcurrentLinkedQueue class supplies an efficient scalable thread-safe non-blocking FIFO queue.

Five implementations in java.util.concurrent support the extended BlockingQueue interface, that defines blocking versions of put and take: LinkedBlockingQueue, ArrayBlockingQueue, SynchronousQueue, PriorityBlockingQueue, and DelayQueue. The different classes cover the most common usage contexts for producer-consumer, messaging, parallel tasking, and related concurrent designs.

Extended interface TransferQueue, and implementation LinkedTransferQueue introduce a synchronous transfer method (along with related features) in which a producer may optionally block awaiting its consumer.

The BlockingDeque interface extends BlockingQueue to support both FIFO and LIFO (stack-based) operations. Class LinkedBlockingDeque provides an implementation.


The TimeUnit class provides multiple granularities (including nanoseconds) for specifying and controlling time-out based operations. Most classes in the package contain operations based on time-outs in addition to indefinite waits. In all cases that time-outs are used, the time-out specifies the minimum time that the method should wait before indicating that it timed-out. Implementations make a "best effort" to detect time-outs as soon as possible after they occur. However, an indefinite amount of time may elapse between a time-out being detected and a thread actually executing again after that time-out. All methods that accept timeout parameters treat values less than or equal to zero to mean not to wait at all. To wait "forever", you can use a value of Long.MAX_VALUE.


Five classes aid common special-purpose synchronization idioms.

Concurrent Collections

Besides Queues, this package supplies Collection implementations designed for use in multithreaded contexts: ConcurrentHashMap, ConcurrentSkipListMap, ConcurrentSkipListSet, CopyOnWriteArrayList, and CopyOnWriteArraySet. When many threads are expected to access a given collection, a ConcurrentHashMap is normally preferable to a synchronized HashMap, and a ConcurrentSkipListMap is normally preferable to a synchronized TreeMap. A CopyOnWriteArrayList is preferable to a synchronized ArrayList when the expected number of reads and traversals greatly outnumber the number of updates to a list.

The "Concurrent" prefix used with some classes in this package is a shorthand indicating several differences from similar "synchronized" classes. For example java.util.Hashtable and Collections.synchronizedMap(new HashMap()) are synchronized. But ConcurrentHashMap is "concurrent". A concurrent collection is thread-safe, but not governed by a single exclusion lock. In the particular case of ConcurrentHashMap, it safely permits any number of concurrent reads as well as a tunable number of concurrent writes. "Synchronized" classes can be useful when you need to prevent all access to a collection via a single lock, at the expense of poorer scalability. In other cases in which multiple threads are expected to access a common collection, "concurrent" versions are normally preferable. And unsynchronized collections are preferable when either collections are unshared, or are accessible only when holding other locks.

Most concurrent Collection implementations (including most Queues) also differ from the usual java.util conventions in that their Iterators provide weakly consistent rather than fast-fail traversal. A weakly consistent iterator is thread-safe, but does not necessarily freeze the collection while iterating, so it may (or may not) reflect any updates since the iterator was created.

Memory Consistency Properties

Chapter 17 of The Java™ Language Specification defines the happens-before relation on memory operations such as reads and writes of shared variables. The results of a write by one thread are guaranteed to be visible to a read by another thread only if the write operation happens-before the read operation. The synchronized and volatile constructs, as well as the Thread.start() and Thread.join() methods, can form happens-before relationships. In particular: The methods of all classes in java.util.concurrent and its subpackages extend these guarantees to higher-level synchronization. In particular:
Java™ Platform
Standard Ed. 7

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