Handling Multithreading with Synchronization

In last post I wrote about how can we speed up our processing using multiple threads in Java, basically doing parallel processing using threads. Using multithreading definitely helps speed up processing, but it can also result in corrupting data if not used properly. Let’s look at this example

//A simple Runnable class
public class RunnableTest implements Runnable{
int count=0;
public void test()
{
try {
count++;
Thread.sleep(1000); //This will just introduce some delay
System.out.println("Hello from Runnable:"+count);
} catch (Exception e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}

@Override
public void run() {
test();
}
}
and call it from somewhere like

Runnable r=new RunnableTest();

for(int i=0;i<20;i++)
{
Thread t1=new Thread(r);
t1.start();
}

Output:
Hello from Runnable:20
Hello from Runnable:20
Hello from Runnable:20
Hello from Runnable:20
Hello from Runnable:20
..
..

We are calling run method 20 times which in turn calls test. We have deliberately introduced some delay in test to give it a feel of real method which is taking time to execute some statements. The output depicts that instead of count being printed as 1, 2, 3 and so on, it is 20 for all the calls. Which means that all the threads are trying to execute same block of code simultaneously. Though parallel processing of code is desirable behavior from multithreading, it can cause issues in scenarios mentioned above.

Let’s say in actual code we are trying to write data into a database. Instead of count we have ID. So first thread creates and ID as X. Then it does some processing and creates an insert statement. While it is doing the processing, a second thread starts executing the same code and creates another ID Y which overrides the ID X (same as count is being modified). So when our thread 1 reaches to the code where it is inserting the data, it will try inserting ID as Y (as X is overridden by Y). Then thread 2 comes and again try to insert ID Y, causing an error.

So in real world we can have blocks of code (or complete methods) which we want to make sure does not get executed by multiple threads at the same time. Fortunately Java provides a simple way to do this. The keyword is synchronized.

public void test()
{
synchronized(this){
try {

count++;
Thread.sleep(1000);
System.out.println(“Hello from Runnable:”+count);
} catch (Exception e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}
}

Now if we run the same code, we will get

Hello from Runnable:1
Hello from Runnable:2
Hello from Runnable:3
Hello from Runnable:4
Hello from Runnable:5
Hello from Runnable:6

Synchronized block makes sure that only one thread is executing blocked code at a time. Another way to synchronize is define method itself as synchronized.

public synchronized void test()

This will make sure only one thread enters this method at a time.

One Response to Handling Multithreading with Synchronization

  1. [...] In my last post I wrote about how synchronization can help making sure that multiple threads do not execute same block of code at the same time. I will take the concept of synchronization a little further here. Going back to previous example. public void test() { synchronized(this){ try { [...]

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