Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Break down package java.util.concurrent.locks

Since JDK 5, Java introduced the most powerful enhancement for concurrence, the package java.util.concurrent.This package contain 2 subpackages, one of them is java.util.concurrent.locks, which provides the notion of locks for synchorization. (BTW, the other subpackage is java.util.concurrent.atomic, which is a small toolkit of classes that support lock-free thread-safe programming on single variables, making common operation like i++ atomic in concurrent environment)

This article will give a big picture of the package java.util.concurrent.locks. Help you get a better understanding of this package.

This article suppose you have already know basic usage of the locks, so will not try to go into usage details, but to focus on the realations of all interfaces and classes as a whole.

1. Hirerarchy diagram


There are only 3 interfaces in this package(green boxes). The diagram also has 4 concreate classes. Only the 2 classes in pink are usually created by keyword new directly, the rest two can not create by a direct new, because their constructor are not public but protected.

2. More explanation

The Condition instance is used to replace the low-level synchronization monitor. (If you want to know more about Java build-in low level synchronization mechanism, see here)

There is no public implementation of this interface in JDK. The only way to create Condition instance is  by newCondition() method of a Lock objects.

The methods await() and signal() are designed to replace the built-in wait() and notify() of every java Object.

The interfaces Lock and ReadWriteLock has no parent-child relation! Although Lock may sound like the parent of ReadWriteLock, but in fact they have no relations at all.

Since all locks implementation are reentrant, which means a thread already has lock can successfully call lock() again without blocking. So there are ways to get how lock hold count in program to know how many times to call unlock(). See the methods getHoldCount() and getReadHoldCount()/getWriteHoldCount().

ReentrantReadWriteLock.ReadLock  and ReentrantReadWriteLock.WriteLock (2 white boxes in diagram),can not be initialized by keyword new since they don’t have public constructors. So the instaces of these two classes can not live independently, but always accompanied by a ReentrantReadWriteLock instance.

Hope now you have a more clear view of package java.util.concurrent.locks.


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Has been a senior software developer, project manager for 10+ years. Dedicate himself to Alcatel-Lucent and China Telecom for delivering software solutions.


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