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Java Concurrency in Practice [Paperback]

by Brian Goetz, Tim Peierls, Joshua Bloch, Joseph Bowbeer, David Holmes, Doug Lea
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 19, 2006 0321349601 978-0321349606 1

"I was fortunate indeed to have worked with a fantastic team on the design and implementation of the concurrency features added to the Java platform in Java 5.0 and Java 6. Now this same team provides the best explanation yet of these new features, and of concurrency in general. Concurrency is no longer a subject for advanced users only. Every Java developer should read this book."
--Martin Buchholz
JDK Concurrency Czar, Sun Microsystems

"For the past 30 years, computer performance has been driven by Moore's Law; from now on, it will be driven by Amdahl's Law. Writing code that effectively exploits multiple processors can be very challenging. Java Concurrency in Practice provides you with the concepts and techniques needed to write safe and scalable Java programs for today's--and tomorrow's--systems."
--Doron Rajwan
Research Scientist, Intel Corp

"This is the book you need if you're writing--or designing, or debugging, or maintaining, or contemplating--multithreaded Java programs. If you've ever had to synchronize a method and you weren't sure why, you owe it to yourself and your users to read this book, cover to cover."
--Ted Neward
Author of Effective Enterprise Java

"Brian addresses the fundamental issues and complexities of concurrency with uncommon clarity. This book is a must-read for anyone who uses threads and cares about performance."
--Kirk Pepperdine

"This book covers a very deep and subtle topic in a very clear and concise way, making it the perfect Java Concurrency reference manual. Each page is filled with the problems (and solutions!) that programmers struggle with every day. Effectively exploiting concurrency is becoming more and more important now that Moore's Law is delivering more cores but not faster cores, and this book will show you how to do it."
--Dr. Cliff Click
Senior Software Engineer, Azul Systems

"I have a strong interest in concurrency, and have probably written more thread deadlocks and made more synchronization mistakes than most programmers. Brian's book is the most readable on the topic of threading and concurrency in Java, and deals with this difficult subject with a wonderful hands-on approach. This is a book I am recommending to all my readers of The Java Specialists' Newsletter, because it is interesting, useful, and relevant to the problems facing Java developers today."
--Dr. Heinz Kabutz
The Java Specialists' Newsletter

"I've focused a career on simplifying simple problems, but this book ambitiously and effectively works to simplify a complex but critical subject: concurrency. Java Concurrency in Practice is revolutionary in its approach, smooth and easy in style, and timely in its delivery--it's destined to be a very important book."
--Bruce Tate
Author of Beyond Java

" Java Concurrency in Practice is an invaluable compilation of threading know-how for Java developers. I found reading this book intellectually exciting, in part because it is an excellent introduction to Java's concurrency API, but mostly because it captures in a thorough and accessible way expert knowledge on threading not easily found elsewhere."
--Bill Venners
Author of Inside the Java Virtual Machine

Threads are a fundamental part of the Java platform. As multicore processors become the norm, using concurrency effectively becomes essential for building high-performance applications. Java SE 5 and 6 are a huge step forward for the development of concurrent applications, with improvements to the Java Virtual Machine to support high-performance, highly scalable concurrent classes and a rich set of new concurrency building blocks. In Java Concurrency in Practice , the creators of these new facilities explain not only how they work and how to use them, but also the motivation and design patterns behind them.

However, developing, testing, and debugging multithreaded programs can still be very difficult; it is all too easy to create concurrent programs that appear to work, but fail when it matters most: in production, under heavy load. Java Concurrency in Practice arms readers with both the theoretical underpinnings and concrete techniques for building reliable, scalable, maintainable concurrent applications. Rather than simply offering an inventory of concurrency APIs and mechanisms, it provides design rules, patterns, and mental models that make it easier to build concurrent programs that are both correct and performant.

This book covers:

  • Basic concepts of concurrency and thread safety
  • Techniques for building and composing thread-safe classes
  • Using the concurrency building blocks in java.util.concurrent
  • Performance optimization dos and don'ts
  • Testing concurrent programs
  • Advanced topics such as atomic variables, nonblocking algorithms, and the Java Memory Model

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Goetz is a software consultant with twenty years industry experience, with over 75 articles on Java development. He is one of the primary members of the Java Community Process JSR 166 Expert Group (Concurrency Utilities), and has served on numerous other JCP Expert Groups.

Tim Peierls is the very model of a modern multiprocessor, with, recording arts, and goings on theatrical. He is one of the primary members of the Java Community Process JSR 166 Expert Group (Concurrency Utilities), and has served on numerous other JCP Expert Groups.

Joshua Bloch is a principal engineer at Google and a Jolt Award-winner. He was previously a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems and a senior systems designer at Transarc. Josh led the design and implementation of numerous Java platform features, including JDK 5.0 language enhancements and the award-winning Java Collections Framework. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Joseph Bowbeer is a software architect at Vizrea Corporation where he specializes in mobile application development for the Java ME platform, but his fascination with concurrent programming began in his days at Apollo Computer. He served on the JCP Expert Group for JSR-166 (Concurrency Utilities).

David Holmes is director of DLTeCH Pty Ltd, located in Brisbane, Australia. He specializes in synchronization and concurrency and was a member of the JSR-166 expert group that developed the new concurrency utilities. He is also a contributor to the update of the Real-Time Specification for Java, and has spent the past few years working on an implementation of that specification.

Doug Lea is one of the foremost experts on object-oriented technology and software reuse. He has been doing collaborative research with Sun Labs for more than five years. Lea is Professor of Computer Science at SUNY Oswego, Co-director of the Software Engineering Lab at the New York Center for Advanced Technology in Computer Applications, and Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Syracuse University. In addition, he co-authored the book, Object-Oriented System Development (Addison-Wesley, 1993). He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

At this writing, multicore processors are just now becoming inexpensive enough for midrange desktop systems. Not coincidentally, many development teams are noticing more and more threading-related bug reports in their projects. In a recent post on the NetBeans developer site, one of the core maintainers observed that a single class had been patched over 14 times to fix threading-related problems. Dion Almaer, former editor of TheServerSide, recently blogged (after a painful debugging session that ultimately revealed a threading bug) that most Java programs are so rife with concurrency bugs that they work only "by accident". Indeed, developing, testing and debugging multithreaded programs can be extremely difficult because concurrency bugs do not manifest themselves predictably. And when they do surface, it is often at the worst possible time--in production, under heavy load.

One of the challenges of developing concurrent programs in Java is the mismatch between the concurrency features offered by the platform and how developers need to think about concurrency in their programs. The language provides low-level mechanisms such as synchronization and condition waits, but these mechanisms must be used consistently to implement application-level protocols or policies. Without such policies, it is all too easy to create programs that compile and appear to work but are nevertheless broken. Many otherwise excellent books on concurrency fall short of their goal by focusing excessively on low-level mechanisms and APIs rather than design-level policies and patterns.

Java 5.0 is a huge step forward for the development of concurrent applications in Java, providing new higher-level components and additional low-level mechanisms that make it easier for novices and experts alike to build concurrent applications. The authors are the primary members of the JCP Expert Group that created these facilities; in addition to describing their behavior and features, we present the underlying design patterns and anticipated usage scenarios that motivated their inclusion in the platform libraries. Our goal is to give readers a set of design rules and mental models that make it easier--and more fun--to build correct, performant concurrent classes and applications in Java.

We hope you enjoy Java Concurrency in Practice.

Brian Goetz
Williston, VT
March 2006

How to use this book

To address the abstraction mismatch between Java's low-level mechanisms and the necessary design-level policies, we present a simplified set of rules for writing concurrent programs. Experts may look at these rules and say "Hmm, that's not entirely true: class C is thread-safe even though it violates rule R." While it is possible to write correct programs that break our rules, doing so requires a deep understanding of the low-level details of the Java Memory Model, and we want developers to be able to write correct concurrent programs without having to master these details. Consistently following our simplified rules will produce correct and maintainable concurrent programs.

We assume the reader already has some familiarity with the basic mechanisms for concurrency in Java. Java Concurrency in Practice is not an introduction to concurrency--for that, see the threading chapter of any decent introductory volume, such as The Java Programming Language (Arnold et al., 2005). Nor is it an encyclopedic reference for All Things Concurrency--for that, see Concurrent Programming in Java (Lea, 2000). Rather, it offers practical design rules to assist developers in the difficult process of creating safe and performant concurrent classes. Where appropriate, we cross-reference relevant sections of The Java Programming Language, Concurrent Programming in Java, The Java Language Specification (Gosling et al., 2005), and Effective Java (Bloch, 2001) using the conventions JPL n.m, CPJ n.m, JLS n.m, and EJ Item n.

After the introduction (Chapter 1), the book is divided into four parts:

Fundamentals. Part I (Chapters 2-5) focuses on the basic concepts of concurrency and thread safety, and how to compose thread-safe classes out of the concurrent building blocks provided by the class library. A "cheat sheet" summarizing the most important of the rules presented in Part I appears on page 110.Chapters 2 (Thread Safety) and 3 (Sharing Objects) form the foundation for the book. Nearly all of the rules on avoiding concurrency hazards, constructing thread-safe classes, and verifying thread safety are here. Readers who prefer "practice" to "theory" may be tempted to skip ahead to Part II, but make sure to come back and read Chapters 2 and 3 before writing any concurrent code!

Chapter 4 (Composing Objects) covers techniques for composing thread-safe classes into larger thread-safe classes. Chapter 5 (Building Blocks) covers the concurrent building blocks--thread-safe collections and synchronizers--provided by the platform libraries.

Structuring Concurrent Applications. Part II (Chapters 6-9) describes how to exploit threads to improve the throughput or responsiveness of concurrent applications. Chapter 6 (Task Execution) covers identifying parallelizable tasks and executing them within the task-execution framework. Chapter 7 (Cancellation and Shutdown) deals with techniques for convincing tasks and threads to terminate before they would normally do so; how programs deal with cancellation and shutdown is often one of the factors that separates truly robust concurrent applications from those that merely work. Chapter 8 (Applying Thread Pools) addresses some of the more advanced features of the task-execution framework.

Chapter 9 (GUI Applications) focuses on techniques for improving responsivenessin single-threaded subsystems. Liveness, Performance, and Testing. Part III (Chapters 10-12) concerns itself with ensuring that concurrent programs actually do what you want them to do and do so with acceptable performance. Chapter 10 (Avoiding Liveness Hazards) describes how to avoid liveness failures that can prevent programs from making forward progress. Chapter 11 (Performance and Scalability) covers techniques for improving the performance and scalability of concurrent code. Chapter 12 (Testing Concurrent Programs) covers techniques for testing concurrent code for both correctness and performance.

Advanced Topics. Part IV (Chapters 13-16) covers topics that are likely to be of interest only to experienced developers: explicit locks, atomic variables, nonblocking algorithms, and developing custom synchronizers.

Code examples

While many of the general concepts in this book are applicable to versions of Java prior to Java 5.0 and even to non-Java environments, most of the code examples (and all the statements about the Java Memory Model) assume Java 5.0 or later. Some of the code examples may use library features added in Java 6.

The code examples have been compressed to reduce their size and to highlight the relevant portions. The full versions of the code examples, as well as supplementary examples and errata, are available from the book's website,

The code examples are of three sorts: "good" examples, "not so good" examples, and "bad" examples. Good examples illustrate techniques that should be emulated. Bad examples illustrate techniques that should definitely not be emulated, and are identified with a "Mr. Yuk" icon to make it clear that this is "toxic" code. Not-so-good examples illustrate techniques that are not necessarily wrong but are fragile, risky, or perform poorly, and are decorated with a "Mr. Could BeHappier" icon.

Some readers may question the role of the "bad" examples in this book; after all, a book should show how to do things right, not wrong. The bad examples have two purposes. They illustrate common pitfalls, but more importantly they demonstrate how to analyze a program for thread safety--and the best way to do that is to see the ways in which thread safety is compromised.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (May 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321349601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321349606
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on concurrency in Java May 28, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Concurrency, in the form of threads, has been present in the Java language from its beginning, and this book is all about concurrency in the current and future versions of Java with an emphasis on writing practical code. This book does for concurrent programming in Java what Geary's series of books did for graphical Java - it moves concurrent Java programming out of the realm of applets containing bouncing balls and into that of providing real solutions for professional programmers.

This book is not meant to be an introduction to concurrency in Java. Its intention is to offer practical design rules to assist developers in the difficult process of creating safe, fast, and high-performance concurrent classes. While many of the general concepts in this book are applicable to versions of Java prior to Java 1.5, most of the code examples and all the statements about the Java Memory Model assume Java 1.5 or later. By "later" I mean that some of the code examples use library features added in the not-yet released Java 1.6. After the introduction, which consists of Chapter 1, the book is divided into four parts:

Part one, "Fundamentals", (Chapters 2-5) are about the basic concepts of concurrency, thread safety, and composing thread-safe classes from those concurrent building blocks provided by the Java language. Chapter 2, "Thread Safety", and 3, "Sharing Objects", include nearly all of the rules on avoiding concurrency hazards, constructing thread-safe classes, and verifying thread safety. Thus, these chapters emphasize theory and have less code than other chapters in the book. Chapter 4 , "Composing Objects", covers techniques for composing large thread-safe classes from smaller thread-safe classes.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! A readable, expert book on Java concurrency August 7, 2006
Concurrency is hard and boring. Unfortunately, my favoured technique of ignoring it and hoping it will go away doesn't look like it's going to bear fruit. Fortunately, Java 5.0 introduced a new bunch of concurrency utilities, that work at a higher level of abstraction than marking blocks as synchronized and fields as volatile. Unfortunately, there haven't been that many books on the subject - even the good Java 5.0 books (e.g. Head First Java or Agile Java) make little mention of them - Thinking in Java being an honourable exception. Fortunately, JCIP is here, and it is authoritative stuff. And it's (mostly) very easy to understand. Plus, at 350 pages, it's not an enormous chore to slog through. It even covers changes to the upcoming Java 6.

Before tackling this book, you should have at least some idea of pre-Java 5.0 concurrency. You don't need to be a threading master, though, as the first part of the book covers basics like deadlock, atomicity and liveness. This was my favourite part of the book, as it comes with lots of small code snippets, both right and (horribly) wrong, and pithy design guidelines. It's rather like Effective Java in that respect - although the material on threading was probably the weakest part of that book, so this is a definite improvement.

The second part deals with thread pools, cancellation strategies, and GUIs. This is also excellent. Part three covers performance and testing. The last 75 pages are for advanced users and goes into a fair amount of low level detail (including a discussion of the Java Memory Model), which may be of interest to experts only.

I would be lying if I said that reading this book will demystify concurrency completely.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage of Java multi-threading June 2, 2006
The book is by far the best one on Java concurrency. There is really nothing out there that has such comprehensive coverage of this topic. Doug Lee's book is a bit theoretical and somewhat dry, but would be a nice complement to this book if you want to think some more about concurrency. This book has a very strong practical vector. Coverage of Java 5 concurrency features is very thorough. The book is extremely well-written, relatively easy to read.

The book stands on par with such established Java book jems as Josh Bloch's "Effective Java", Eckel's "Thinking in Java" and Rod Johnson's J2EE books.

All in all, this is a definite must have for any Java specialist.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear approach to a complex topic April 10, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We've been reading a pre-release version of this book as part of a local study group and I'm very impressed with the treatment.

Concurrency is perhaps one of the hardest issues to understand well and it's equally difficult to explain all of the issues, but Goetz et. al. do a very nice job of explaining clearly the different ways a multi-threaded process can fail and then providing concrete design philosophies that will help address those problems.

In my experience, concurrency books often fall between providing too little detail ("just add synchronized to everything and all should be well") to providing too much ("details of how the Java Memory Model actually behaves on a multi-processor machine"). Java Concurrency in Practice seems to find a nice balance, e.g. thoroughly explaining why you need to worry about how values are "published" between threads but without swamping you with so much information about the details of how this is done by the VM that you're left gasping for air.

For me, this is a focus on the practical aspects of building multi-threaded applications in real world situations. In such cases, you need to fully understand the potential pitfalls and then you want to have a list of specific design methodologies which help avoid those failings. Java Concurrency in Practice does a nice job of providing both.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on Java Multi-threading
I have read many Java books over the course of my Java Developer career (effective java 1 and 2, java puzzles, core java 1 and 2, and many others) and before reading this book I... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Rajesh
5.0 out of 5 stars Great coverage of this challenging part of Java
Nice clear examples. Good explanations. I will need to reread to get better understanding - I can recommend this book.
Published 16 days ago by D. Milotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Wide
Very good book. The author assumes are fairly high level of Java fluency, which forces me to re-read sections, and even entire chapters. Read more
Published 23 days ago by J. Shaver
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book on concurrency by showing Java program
The book includes the concepts on concurrency.
It is important concept for concurrency and the program are good examples. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Fumio Mizoguchi
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book for Concurrency in Java.
This is one of 'must read' books for any Java developer. It gives deep insight of concurrent programming. Full of well-chosen examples.
Published 3 months ago by Michal Majcherski
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better IT books
One of the better IT books -- really gets into WHY you're doing something. There are some areas that I found could be explained better but ... overall a must-have book.
Published 3 months ago by Bill L
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to concurrency in Java
This book gives a good introduction to how to write multithreaded Java programs. The first few chapters give a detailed overview of how things can go wrong without proper... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Steve E. Chapel
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on concurrency I've ever seen and read.
The best book on concurrency I've ever seen and read. This book builds a clear understanding of java concurrency model in the readers head. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mike
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a must read
An awesome thing for gaining the understanding of concurrency in Java. Thought it's not quit the book I would recommend a novice to read. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Aectann
1.0 out of 5 stars had to get it for school
Why get a book when all this information is on line. ended up wasting my own money. SHould have known better
Published 9 months ago by Adam Lauer
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Topic From this Discussion
Lea's 3rd Edition?
I can't answer for Doug, but...

This book is not derived from Concurrent Programming in Java, and it takes an entirely different approach. Where Concurrent Programming in Java is an encyclopaedia of "All Things Concurrency", Java Concurrency in Practice is more of a practical... Read more
Mar 26, 2006 by Brian Goetz |  See all 7 posts
Bestselling title at JavaOne 2006
And I'm pleased to report that Java Concurrency in Practice was the best selling title again at JavaOne 2007!
May 18, 2007 by Brian Goetz |  See all 2 posts
Is there anything similar in .NET?
No serious system? You're kidding right?

Anyway, I am mostly a C# programmer and this book is still quite useful for the THEORY of concurrent programming. I refer to it often.

If you are looking for a .NET specific book, you will find the treatment of threading in Jesse Liberty's... Read more
Apr 26, 2007 by Alfred Broderick |  See all 6 posts
Indian edition
Are you speaking of a translation to Hindi, or simply an "LPE" edition priced for the Indian market?
May 24, 2006 by Brian Goetz |  See all 4 posts
Java and OS
If you're doing C the K & R book (The C Programming Language) is the one many recommend, they wrote C after all. However this book hasn't been updated to cover C99 which is a more recent standard for C which became an ANSI standard in 2000.

There's many books on Java. You will need two books, a... Read more
Oct 2, 2008 by G. Jones |  See all 2 posts
This book is excellent, I highly recommend it. Be the first to reply
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