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Deadlock is a situation where two or more threads are blocked forever, waiting for each other. This may occur when two threads, each having a lock on one resource, attempt to acquire a lock on the other's resource. Each thread would wait indefinitely for the other to release the lock, unless one of the user processes is terminated. In terms of Java API, thread deadlock can occur in following conditions:

  • When two threads call Thread.join() on each other.
  • When two threads use nested synchronized blocks to lock two objects and the blocks lock the same objects in different order.

Starvation and livelock are much less common a problem than deadlock, but are still problems that every designer of concurrent software is likely to encounter.

Livelock occurs when all threads are blocked, or are otherwise unable to proceed due to unavailability of required resources, and the non-existence of any unblocked thread to make those resources available. In terms of Java API, thread livelock can occur in following conditions:

  • When all the threads in a program execute Object.wait(0) on an object with zero parameter. The program is live-locked and cannot proceed until one or more threads call Object.notify() or Object.notifyAll() on the relevant objects. Because all the threads are blocked, neither call can be made.
  • When all the threads in a program are stuck in infinite loops.

Starvation describes a situation where a thread is unable to gain regular access to shared resources and is unable to make progress. This happens when shared resources are made unavailable for long periods by "greedy" threads. For example, suppose an object provides a synchronized method that often takes a long time to return. If one thread invokes this method frequently, other threads that also need frequent synchronized access to the same object will often be blocked. Starvation occurs when one thread cannot access the CPU because one or more other threads are monopolizing the CPU. In Java, thread starvation can be caused by setting thread priorities inappropriately. A lower-priority thread can be starved by higher-priority threads if the higher-priority threads do not yield control of the CPU from time to time.

Earlier versions of Java had no mechanism to handle/detect deadlock. Since JDK 1.5 there are some powerful methods added in the java.lang.management package to diagnose and detect deadlocks. The java.lang.management.ThreadMXBean interface is management interface for the thread system of the Java virtual machine. It has two methods which can leveraged to detect deadlock in a Java application.

  • findMonitorDeadlockedThreads() - This method can be used to detect cycles of threads that are in deadlock waiting to acquire object monitors. It returns an array of thread IDs that are deadlocked waiting on monitor.
  • findDeadlockedThreads() - It returns an array of thread IDs that are deadlocked waiting on monitor or ownable synchronizers.

An object is considered immutable if its state cannot change after it is constructed. Maximum reliance on immutable objects is widely accepted as a sound strategy for creating simple, reliable code. Immutable objects are particularly useful in concurrent applications. Since they cannot change state, they cannot be corrupted by thread interference or observed in an inconsistent state. Examples of immutable objects from the JDK include String and Integer. Immutable objects greatly simplify your multi threaded program, since they are

  • Simple to construct, test, and use.
  • Automatically thread-safe and have no synchronization issues.

To create a object immutable You need to make the class final and all its member final so that once objects gets crated no one can modify its state. You can achieve same functionality by making member as non final but private and not modifying them except in constructor.

A Thread Dump is a complete list of active threads. A java thread dump is a way of finding out what each thread in the JVM is doing at a particular point of time. This is especially useful when your java application seems to have some performance issues. Thread dump will help you to find out which thread is causing this. There are several ways to take thread dumps from a JVM. It is highly recommended to take more than 1 thread dump and analyze the results based on it. Follow below steps to take thread dump of a java process

Step 1

On UNIX, Linux and Mac OSX Environment run below command:

ps -el | grep java

On Windows:

Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the task manager and find the PID of the java process

Step 2:

Use jstack command to print the Java stack traces for a given Java process PID

jstack [PID]  

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