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Difference between Thread vs Runnable interface in Java


February 27, 2014 by admin

Difference between Thread vs Runnable interface in Java

Thread vs Runnable in Java is always been a confusing decision for beginners  in java. Thread in Java seems easy in comparison of Runnable because you just deal with one class java.lang.Thread while in case of using Runnable to implement Thread you need to deal with both Thread and Runnable two classes. though decision of using Runnable or Thread should be taken considering differences between Runnable and Thread and pros and cons of both approaches. This is also a very popular thread interview questions and most of interviewer are really interested to know what is your point of view while choosing Thread vs Runnable or opposite. In this java article we will try to point out some differences between Thread and Runnable in Java which will help you to take an informed decision.

Difference between Thread and Runnable interface in Java

Thread vs Runnable in Java

Here are some of my thoughts on whether I should use Thread or Runnable for implementing task in Java, though you have another choice as “Callable” for implementing thread which we will discuss later.
1) Java doesn’t support multiple inheritance, which means you can only extend one class in Java so once you extended Thread class you lost your chance and can not extend or inherit another class in Java.
2) In Object oriented programming extending a class generally means adding new functionality, modifying or improving behaviors. If we are not making any modification on Thread than use Runnable interface instead.
3) Runnable interface represent a Task which can be executed by either plain Thread or Executors or any other means. so logical separation of Task as Runnable than Thread is good design decision.
4) Separating task as Runnable means we can reuse the task and also has liberty to execute it from different means. since you can not restart a Thread once it completes. again Runnable vs Thread for task, Runnable is winner.
5) Java designer recognizes this and that’s why Executors accept Runnable as Task and they have worker thread which executes those task.
6) Inheriting all Thread methods are additional overhead just for representing a Task which can can be done easily with Runnable.
These were some of notable difference between Thread and Runnable in Java, if you know any other differences on Thread vs Runnable than please share it via comments. I personally use Runnable over Thread for this scenario and recommends to use Runnable or Callable interface based on your requirement.

Read more: http://javarevisited.blogspot.com/2012/01/difference-thread-vs-runnable-interface.html#ixzz2uUJS1Txw

Another Difference 

Difference between “implements Runnable” and “extends Thread” in java

In java language, as we all know that there are two ways to create threads. One using Runnable interface and another by extending Thread class.

01.public class DemoRunnable implements Runnable {
02.public void run() {
06.//with a "new Thread(demoRunnable).start()" call
08.public class DemoThread extends Thread {
09.public DemoThread() {
12.public void run() {
16.//with a "demoThread.start()" call

There has been a good amount of debate on which is better way. Well, I also tried to find out and below is my learning:

1) Implementing Runnable is the preferred way to do it. Here, you’re not really specializing or modifying the thread’s behavior. You’re just giving the thread something to run. That means composition is the better way to go.

2) Java only supports single inheritance, so you can only extend one class.

3) Instantiating an interface gives a cleaner separation between your code and the implementation of threads.

4)  Implementing Runnable makes your class more flexible. If you extend thread then the action you’re doing is always going to be in a thread. However, if you extend Runnable it doesn’t have to be. You can run it in a thread, or pass it to some kind of executor service, or just pass it around as a task within a single threaded application.

5) By extending Thread, each of your threads has a unique object associated with it, whereas implementing Runnable, many threads can share the same runnable instance.

6) If you are working on JDK 4 or lesser, then there is bug :


It’s fixed in Java 1.5 but Sun doesn’t intend to fix it in 1.4.

The issue is that at construction time, a Thread is added to a list of references in an internal thread table. It won’t get removed from that list until its start() method has completed. As long as that reference is there, it won’t get garbage collected.


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