The Java Language Environment

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Sophisticated computer users become impatient with the do-one-thing-at-a-time mindset of the average personal computer. Users perceive that their world is full of multiple events all happening at once, and they like to have their computers work the same way.

Unfortunately, writing programs that deal with many things happening at once can be much more difficult than writing in the conventional single-threaded C and C++ style. You can write multithreaded applications in languages such as C and C++, but the level of difficulty goes up by orders of magnitude, and even then there are no assurances that vendors' libraries are thread-safe.

The term thread-safe means that a given library function is implemented in such a manner that it can be executed by multiple concurrent threads of execution.

The major problem with explicitly programmed thread support is that you can never be quite sure you have acquired the locks you need and released them again at the right time. If you return from a method prematurely, for instance, or if an exception is raised, for another instance, your lock has not been released; deadlock is the usual result.

Copyright © 1997 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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