Lesson Plan on Using Thread Pools in Java

文章最後更新於 2024 年 2 月 20 日

To understand how to use a thread pool in Java, let’s go through a structured plan that will cover the essential aspects of working with thread pools. This plan will include understanding what thread pools are, how to create them, and how to use them effectively in Java applications.

  1. Introduction to Thread Pools
    • Understand what thread pools are and why they are used.
  2. Types of Thread Pools in Java
    • Learn about the different types of thread pools provided by the Java Executor framework.
  3. Creating a Thread Pool
    • Step-by-step guide on creating different types of thread pools.
  4. Submitting Tasks to the Thread Pool
    • Learn how to submit tasks for execution in the thread pool.
  5. Shutting Down the Thread Pool
    • Understand how to properly shut down the thread pool.
  6. Handling Results of Asynchronous Tasks
    • Learn how to handle the results of tasks executed by the thread pool.
  7. Best Practices and Considerations
    • Discuss best practices and important considerations when using thread pools.

Step 1: Introduction to Thread Pools

Thread pools in Java are used to manage a pool of worker threads. The thread pool manages a set of threads for performing a set of tasks, which allows for efficient execution of multiple tasks in parallel, without having to create a new thread for each task. This improves performance and resource management in multi-threaded applications.

image 1

Step 2: Types of Thread Pools in Java

Java’s Executor framework, introduced in Java 5, provides several thread pool implementations through the Executors factory class. Understanding the types of thread pools available will help you choose the most appropriate one for your application’s needs.

  1. Fixed Thread Pool: A thread pool with a fixed number of threads. If a thread is busy and additional tasks are submitted, they will be held in a queue until a thread becomes available.
  2. Cached Thread Pool: A thread pool that creates new threads as needed, but will reuse previously constructed threads when they are available. If a thread is idle for a certain amount of time (60 seconds by default), it is terminated and removed from the pool.
  3. Single Thread Executor: A thread pool with only one thread. All submitted tasks are executed sequentially in the order they are submitted.
  4. Scheduled Thread Pool: A thread pool that can schedule commands to run after a given delay, or to execute periodically.
  5. Work Stealing Pool (Java 8 and later): A thread pool that attempts to utilize all available processor cores by employing a work-stealing algorithm where idle threads can “steal” tasks from busy threads to ensure maximum CPU utilization.

Each of these thread pool types is suited to different kinds of tasks and workloads. For example, a fixed thread pool is useful for handling a known set of parallel tasks, while a cached thread pool is more flexible for tasks with variable execution time or number.

Step 3: Creating a Thread Pool

Creating a thread pool in Java is straightforward using the Executors factory class provided by the java.util.concurrent package. Here, we’ll go through how to create each type of thread pool discussed in the previous step.

To create a fixed thread pool, you use the Executors.newFixedThreadPool(int nThreads) method, where nThreads is the number of threads in the pool.

ExecutorService fixedThreadPool = Executors.newFixedThreadPool(4);

Creating a cached thread pool is done via Executors.newCachedThreadPool(). This pool creates new threads as needed and reuses available threads.

ExecutorService cachedThreadPool = Executors.newCachedThreadPool();

A single thread executor is created using Executors.newSingleThreadExecutor(). This executor ensures that only a single task is executed at a time.

ExecutorService singleThreadExecutor = Executors.newSingleThreadExecutor();

For creating a scheduled thread pool, use Executors.newScheduledThreadPool(int corePoolSize), where corePoolSize is the number of threads to keep in the pool, even if they are idle.

ScheduledExecutorService scheduledThreadPool = Executors.newScheduledThreadPool(4);

Available from Java 8, a work stealing pool is created with Executors.newWorkStealingPool(int parallelism) where parallelism is the target parallelism level. If not specified, it defaults to the number of available processors.

ExecutorService workStealingPool = Executors.newWorkStealingPool();

Choosing the Right Thread Pool

Selecting the appropriate thread pool depends on the specifics of the tasks you intend to execute. For instance, a fixed thread pool can efficiently handle a known number of concurrent tasks, while a cached thread pool is more suitable for tasks with a short duration or unknown quantity.

Step 4: Submitting Tasks to the Thread Pool

Once you have created a thread pool using the ExecutorService, you can submit tasks for execution. Tasks can be submitted in the form of Runnable or Callable objects, where Runnable tasks do not return a result and Callable tasks return a result. The ExecutorService provides several methods for submitting tasks:

  1. execute(Runnable command): Executes the given command at some time in the future. This method does not return a result.

fixedThreadPool.execute(() -> {
    // Task to be executed
    System.out.println("Executing a Runnable task");
  1. submit(Runnable task): Submits a Runnable task for execution and returns a Future representing that task. The Future’s get method will return null upon successful completion.

Future<?> runnableFuture = fixedThreadPool.submit(() -> {
    // Task to be executed
    System.out.println("Executing a Runnable task with submit");
  1. submit(Callable<T> task): Submits a Callable task for execution and returns a Future representing the pending results of the task.

Future<Integer> callableFuture = fixedThreadPool.submit(() -> {
    // Task to be executed
    return 123;

Handling Task Submission

  • Handling Runnable Tasks: Since Runnable tasks do not return a result, you primarily manage the execution flow and any exceptions that might occur within the task itself.
  • Handling Callable Tasks: For Callable tasks, you can use the returned Future object to retrieve the result, check if the task is complete, or cancel the task.

Example of Submitting a Callable Task and Retrieving the Result

Callable<Integer> task = () -> {
    // Simulate some computation
    return 42;

Future<Integer> future = fixedThreadPool.submit(task);

try {
    // Blocks until the result is available
    Integer result = future.get();
    System.out.println("Result of the Callable task: " + result);
} catch (InterruptedException | ExecutionException e) {

When submitting tasks, it’s essential to handle possible exceptions such as InterruptedException and ExecutionException, which can occur when trying to retrieve the result of a task.

Step 5: Shutting Down the Thread Pool

Properly shutting down a thread pool is crucial to ensure that all tasks have completed and resources are released. The ExecutorService interface provides methods to shut down the thread pool in an orderly fashion or immediately.

Orderly Shutdown

  • shutdown(): Initiates an orderly shutdown in which previously submitted tasks are executed, but no new tasks will be accepted. This method does not wait for previously submitted tasks to complete execution.


After calling shutdown(), you can wait for the thread pool to finish all tasks and terminate using awaitTermination(long timeout, TimeUnit unit), which blocks until all tasks have completed execution after a shutdown request, or the timeout occurs, or the current thread is interrupted, whichever happens first.

try {
    if (!executorService.awaitTermination(60, TimeUnit.SECONDS)) {
        executorService.shutdownNow(); // Cancel currently executing tasks
} catch (InterruptedException ie) {

Immediate Shutdown

  • shutdownNow(): Attempts to stop all actively executing tasks, halts the processing of waiting tasks, and returns a list of the tasks that were awaiting execution. This method does not wait for actively executing tasks to terminate.

List<Runnable> notExecutedTasks = executorService.shutdownNow();

Best Practices for Shutdown

  1. Always Shutdown: Always remember to shut down your executor service to free up system resources and avoid memory leaks.
  2. Prefer Orderly Shutdown: Start with shutdown() to allow executing tasks to finish before shutting down the thread pool.
  3. Use ShutdownNow with Caution: shutdownNow() can be used to immediately terminate the executor, but it should be used cautiously as it interrupts running tasks.
  4. Handle Tasks After ShutdownNow: If you use shutdownNow(), consider handling the list of tasks that were not executed to determine if they need to be run again or logged.

Properly managing the lifecycle of a thread pool is essential for resource management and ensuring that your application shuts down gracefully.

Step 6: Handling Results of Asynchronous Tasks

When you submit tasks to a thread pool in Java using the ExecutorService, you often need to handle the results of these tasks, especially when they are submitted as Callable objects. The Future interface plays a crucial role in this process, providing methods to check if the task is complete, to wait for its completion, and to retrieve the result.

Working with Future

After submitting a Callable task to an ExecutorService, you receive a Future object that represents the pending result of the task. The Future provides several methods to manage the state and result of the task:

  • isDone(): Returns true if the task was completed, cancelled, or otherwise finished.
  • get(): Waits if necessary for the task to complete, and then retrieves its result.
  • get(long timeout, TimeUnit unit): Waits if necessary for at most the given time for the task to complete, and then retrieves its result, if available.
  • cancel(boolean mayInterruptIfRunning): Attempts to cancel execution of this task.

Example: Retrieving Results from Callable Tasks

ExecutorService executorService = Executors.newFixedThreadPool(2);

// Submit a callable task that returns a result
Future<Integer> futureResult = executorService.submit(() -> {
    // Simulate some computation
    return 42; // Return some result

try {
    // Retrieve the result of the computation
    Integer result = futureResult.get(); // This call blocks until the result is available
    System.out.println("Result of the Callable task: " + result);
} catch (InterruptedException | ExecutionException e) {

Handling InterruptedException and ExecutionException

  • InterruptedException: Thrown if the current thread was interrupted while waiting.
  • ExecutionException: Thrown if the computation threw an exception.

Best Practices for Handling Future Results

  1. Timeouts: Use the get(long timeout, TimeUnit unit) method to avoid indefinitely waiting for a task that might be stuck.
  2. Cancellation: Use the cancel() method to cancel the execution of a task if it is no longer needed.
  3. Exception Handling: Properly handle InterruptedException and ExecutionException to deal with possible interruptions and execution errors in the tasks.

Handling the results of asynchronous tasks efficiently is crucial for building responsive and robust concurrent applications in Java.

Step 7: Best Practices and Considerations

When using thread pools in Java, adhering to best practices and considering certain factors can significantly improve the performance, reliability, and maintainability of your concurrent applications. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Choosing the Right Type of Thread Pool

  • Understand Task Characteristics: Choose the thread pool type that best matches the characteristics of the tasks. For example, use a fixed thread pool for a known number of concurrent tasks or a cached thread pool for short-lived asynchronous tasks.
  • Consider Resource Constraints: Be mindful of the system’s resource constraints. A cached thread pool may spawn too many threads under high load, leading to resource exhaustion.

2. Task Submission and Execution

  • Task Size and Duration: Consider the size and duration of tasks submitted to the thread pool. Long-running tasks may monopolize threads, reducing the pool’s overall throughput.
  • Error Handling: Implement robust error handling within the tasks. Uncaught exceptions in tasks can cause threads to terminate unexpectedly, reducing the pool’s size.

3. Managing Thread Pool Lifecycle

  • Graceful Shutdown: Always shut down the thread pool properly to ensure that all tasks are completed and resources are released. Use shutdown() to allow current tasks to finish and shutdownNow() to stop tasks immediately if necessary.
  • Await Termination: After requesting a shutdown, use awaitTermination() to ensure that all tasks have completed and the pool is fully terminated before the application exits.

4. Handling Future Results

  • Timely Result Retrieval: Retrieve the results of asynchronous tasks in a timely manner to avoid blocking system resources unnecessarily.
  • Dealing with Cancellation: Be prepared to handle task cancellation scenarios, whether initiated by your application logic or as a part of the shutdown process.

5. Monitoring and Tuning

  • Monitor Performance: Monitor the performance of your thread pool and tasks to identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies.
  • Tune Configuration: Adjust the configuration of your thread pool based on performance observations and changing application requirements.

6. Thread Pool Size

  • Size Appropriately: The optimal size of a thread pool depends on the number of processors available and the nature of the tasks. For CPU-bound tasks, a pool size equal to the number of available processors is often a good starting point. For I/O-bound tasks, a larger pool size may be necessary.

7. Avoid Creating Unnecessary Threads

  • Reuse Over Creation: Prefer reusing threads through a pool instead of creating new threads for each task, which is more efficient and reduces overhead.

By following these best practices and considerations, you can effectively utilize thread pools in Java to achieve high-performance, scalable, and responsive applications.


我是Oscar (卡哥),前Yahoo Lead Engineer、高智商同好組織Mensa會員,超過十年的工作經驗,服務過Yahoo關鍵字廣告業務部門、電子商務及搜尋部門,喜歡彈吉他玩音樂,也喜歡投資美股、虛擬貨幣,樂於與人分享交流!