Priorities

Bruce Eckel’s Thinking in Java Contents | Prev | Next

//: Counter5.java
// Adjusting the priorities of threads
import java.awt.*;
import java.awt.event.*;
import java.applet.*;
 
class Ticker2 extends Thread {
  private Button
    b = new Button("Toggle"),
    incPriority = new Button("up"),
    decPriority = new Button("down");
  private TextField
    t = new TextField(10),
    pr = new TextField(3); // Display priority
  private int count = 0;
  private boolean runFlag = true;
  public Ticker2(Container c) {
    b.addActionListener(new ToggleL());
    incPriority.addActionListener(new UpL());
    decPriority.addActionListener(new DownL());
    Panel p = new Panel();
    p.add(t);
    p.add(pr);
    p.add(b);
    p.add(incPriority);
    p.add(decPriority);
    c.add(p);
  }
  class ToggleL implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
      runFlag = !runFlag;
    }
  }
  class UpL implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
      int newPriority = getPriority() + 1;
      if(newPriority > Thread.MAX_PRIORITY)
        newPriority = Thread.MAX_PRIORITY;
      setPriority(newPriority);
    }
  }
  class DownL implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
      int newPriority = getPriority() - 1;
      if(newPriority < Thread.MIN_PRIORITY)
        newPriority = Thread.MIN_PRIORITY;
      setPriority(newPriority);
    }
  }
  public void run() {
    while (true) {
      if(runFlag) {
        t.setText(Integer.toString(count++));
        pr.setText(
          Integer.toString(getPriority()));
      }
      yield();
    }
  }
}
 
public class Counter5 extends Applet {
  private Button
    start = new Button("Start"),
    upMax = new Button("Inc Max Priority"),
    downMax = new Button("Dec Max Priority");
  private boolean started = false;
  private static final int SIZE = 10;
  private Ticker2[] s = new Ticker2[SIZE];
  private TextField mp = new TextField(3);
  public void init() {
    for(int i = 0; i < s.length; i++)
      s[i] = new Ticker2(this);
    add(new Label("MAX_PRIORITY = "
      + Thread.MAX_PRIORITY));
    add(new Label("MIN_PRIORITY = "
      + Thread.MIN_PRIORITY));
    add(new Label("Group Max Priority = "));
    add(mp);
    add(start);
    add(upMax); add(downMax);
    start.addActionListener(new StartL());
    upMax.addActionListener(new UpMaxL());
    downMax.addActionListener(new DownMaxL());
    showMaxPriority();
    // Recursively display parent thread groups:
    ThreadGroup parent =
      s[0].getThreadGroup().getParent();
    while(parent != null) {
      add(new Label(
        "Parent threadgroup max priority = "
        + parent.getMaxPriority()));
      parent = parent.getParent();
    }
  }
  public void showMaxPriority() {
    mp.setText(Integer.toString(
      s[0].getThreadGroup().getMaxPriority()));
  }
  class StartL implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
      if(!started) {
        started = true;
        for(int i = 0; i < s.length; i++)
          s[i].start();
      }
    }
  }
  class UpMaxL implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
      int maxp =
        s[0].getThreadGroup().getMaxPriority();
      if(++maxp > Thread.MAX_PRIORITY)
        maxp = Thread.MAX_PRIORITY;
      s[0].getThreadGroup().setMaxPriority(maxp);
      showMaxPriority();
    }
  }
  class DownMaxL implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
      int maxp =
        s[0].getThreadGroup().getMaxPriority();
      if(--maxp < Thread.MIN_PRIORITY)
        maxp = Thread.MIN_PRIORITY;
      s[0].getThreadGroup().setMaxPriority(maxp);
      showMaxPriority();
    }
  }
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    Counter5 applet = new Counter5();
    Frame aFrame = new Frame("Counter5");
    aFrame.addWindowListener(
      new WindowAdapter() {
        public void windowClosing(WindowEvent e) {
          System.exit(0);
        }
      });
    aFrame.add(applet, BorderLayout.CENTER);
    aFrame.setSize(300, 600);
    applet.init();
    applet.start();
    aFrame.setVisible(true);
  }
} ///:~ 

Ticker2
follows the form established earlier in this chapter, but there’s an extra
TextField
for displaying the priority of the thread and two more buttons for incrementing
and decrementing the priority.

Also
notice the use of
yield( ),
which voluntarily hands control back to the scheduler. Without this the
multithreading mechanism still works, but you’ll notice it runs slowly
(try removing the call to
yield( )!).
You could also call
sleep( ),
but then the rate of counting would be controlled by the
sleep( )
duration instead of the priority.

The
init( )
in
Counter5
creates an array of 10
Ticker2s;
their buttons and fields are placed on the form by the
Ticker2
constructor.
Counter5
adds
buttons to start everything up as well as increment and decrement the maximum
priority of the threadgroup. In addition, there are labels that display the
maximum and minimum priorities possible for a thread and a
TextField
to show the thread group’s maximum priority. (The next section will fully
describe thread groups.) Finally, the priorities of the parent thread groups
are also displayed as labels.

When
you press an “up” or “down” button, that
Ticker2’s
priority is fetched and incremented or decremented accordingly.

The
simple test is to take one counter and decrement its priority to one, and
observe that it counts much slower. But now try to increment it again. You can
get it back up to the thread group’s priority, but no higher. Now
decrement the thread group’s priority a couple of times. The thread
priorities are unchanged, but if you try to modify them either up or down
you’ll see that they’ll automatically pop to the priority of the
thread group. Also, new threads will still be given a default priority, even if
that’s higher than the group priority. (Thus the group priority is not a
way to prevent new threads from having higher priorities than existing ones.)

Thread
groups

Thread
groups must also belong to other thread groups. The thread group that a new one
belongs to must be specified in the constructor. If you create a thread group
without specifying a thread group for it to belong to, it will be placed under
the system thread group. Thus, all thread groups in your application will
ultimately have the system thread group as the parent.

The
reason for the existence of thread groups is hard to determine from the
literature, which tends to be confusing on this subject. It’s often cited
as “security reasons.” According to Arnold & Gosling,
[62]
“Threads within a thread group can modify the other threads in the group,
including any farther down the hierarchy. A thread cannot modify threads
outside of its own group or contained groups.” It’s hard to know
what “modify” is supposed to mean here. The following example shows
a thread in a “leaf” subgroup modifying the priorities of all the
threads in its tree of thread groups as well as calling a method for all the
threads in its tree.

//: TestAccess.java
// How threads can access other threads
// in a parent thread group
 
public class TestAccess {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    ThreadGroup
      x = new ThreadGroup("x"),
      y = new ThreadGroup(x, "y"),
      z = new ThreadGroup(y, "z");
    Thread
      one = new TestThread1(x, "one"),
      two = new TestThread2(z, "two");
  }
}
 
class TestThread1 extends Thread {
  private int i;
  TestThread1(ThreadGroup g, String name) {
    super(g, name);
  }
  void f() {
    i++; // modify this thread
    System.out.println(getName() + " f()");
  }
}
 
class TestThread2 extends TestThread1 {
  TestThread2(ThreadGroup g, String name) {
    super(g, name);
    start();
  }
  public void run() {
    ThreadGroup g =
      getThreadGroup().getParent().getParent();
    g.list();
    Thread[] gAll = new Thread[g.activeCount()];
    g.enumerate(gAll);
    for(int i = 0; i < gAll.length; i++) {
      gAll[i].setPriority(Thread.MIN_PRIORITY);
      ((TestThread1)gAll[i]).f();
    }
    g.list();
  }
} ///:~ 

In
main( ),
several
ThreadGroups
are created, leafing off from each other:
x
has no argument but its name (a
String),
so it is automatically placed in the “system” thread group, while
y
is under
x
and
z
is under
y.
Note that initialization happens in textual order so this code is legal.

Two
threads are created and placed in different thread groups.
TestThread1
doesn’t have a
run( )
method but it does have an
f( )
that modifies the thread and prints something so you can see it was called.
TestThread2
is a subclass of
TestThread1
and its
run( )
is fairly elaborate. It first gets the thread group of the current thread, then
moves up the heritage tree by two levels using
getParent( ).
(This is contrived since I purposely place the
TestThread2
object two levels down in the hierarchy.) At this point, an array of handles to
Threads
is created using the method
activeCount( )
to ask how many threads are in this thread group and all the child thread
groups. The
enumerate( )
method places handles to all of these threads in the array
gAll,
then I simply move through the entire array calling the
f( )
method for each thread, as well as modifying the priority. Thus, a thread in a
“leaf” thread group modifies threads in parent thread groups.

The
debugging method
list( )
prints all the information about a thread group to standard output and is
helpful when investigating thread group behavior. Here’s the output of
the program:

java.lang.ThreadGroup[name=x,maxpri=10]
    Thread[one,5,x]
    java.lang.ThreadGroup[name=y,maxpri=10]
        java.lang.ThreadGroup[name=z,maxpri=10]
            Thread[two,5,z]
one f()
two f()
java.lang.ThreadGroup[name=x,maxpri=10]
    Thread[one,1,x]
    java.lang.ThreadGroup[name=y,maxpri=10]
        java.lang.ThreadGroup[name=z,maxpri=10]
            Thread[two,1,z]

Not
only does
list( )
print the class name of
ThreadGroup
or
Thread,
but it also prints the thread group name and its maximum priority. For threads,
the thread name is printed, followed by the thread priority and the group that
it belongs to. Note that
list( )
indents the threads and thread groups to indicate that they are children of the
un-indented thread group.

You
can see that
f( )
is called by the
TestThread2
run( )
method, so it’s obvious that all threads in a group are vulnerable.
However, you can access only the threads that branch off from your own
system
thread group tree, and perhaps this is what is meant by “safety.”
You cannot access anyone else’s system thread group tree.


Controlling
thread groups

Putting
aside the safety issue, one thing thread groups do seem to be useful for is
control: you can perform certain operations on an entire thread group with a
single command. The following example demonstrates this and the restrictions on
priorities within thread groups. The commented numbers in parentheses provide a
reference to compare to the output.

//: ThreadGroup1.java
// How thread groups control priorities
// of the threads inside them.
 
public class ThreadGroup1 {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    // Get the system thread & print its Info:
    ThreadGroup sys =
      Thread.currentThread().getThreadGroup();
    sys.list(); // (1)
    // Reduce the system thread group priority:
    sys.setMaxPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY - 1);
    // Increase the main thread priority:
    Thread curr = Thread.currentThread();
    curr.setPriority(curr.getPriority() + 1);
    sys.list(); // (2)
    // Attempt to set a new group to the max:
    ThreadGroup g1 = new ThreadGroup("g1");
    g1.setMaxPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY);
    // Attempt to set a new thread to the max:
    Thread t = new Thread(g1, "A");
    t.setPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY);
    g1.list(); // (3)
    // Reduce g1's max priority, then attempt
    // to increase it:
    g1.setMaxPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY - 2);
    g1.setMaxPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY);
    g1.list(); // (4)
    // Attempt to set a new thread to the max:
    t = new Thread(g1, "B");
    t.setPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY);
    g1.list(); // (5)
    // Lower the max priority below the default
    // thread priority:
    g1.setMaxPriority(Thread.MIN_PRIORITY + 2);
    // Look at a new thread's priority before
    // and after changing it:
    t = new Thread(g1, "C");
    g1.list(); // (6)
    t.setPriority(t.getPriority() -1);
    g1.list(); // (7)
    // Make g2 a child Threadgroup of g1 and
    // try to increase its priority:
    ThreadGroup g2 = new ThreadGroup(g1, "g2");
    g2.list(); // (8)
    g2.setMaxPriority(Thread.MAX_PRIORITY);
    g2.list(); // (9)
    // Add a bunch of new threads to g2:
    for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
      new Thread(g2, Integer.toString(i));
    // Show information about all threadgroups
    // and threads:
    sys.list(); // (10)
    System.out.println("Starting all threads:");
    Thread[] all = new Thread[sys.activeCount()];
    sys.enumerate(all);
    for(int i = 0; i < all.length; i++)
      if(!all[i].isAlive())
        all[i].start();
    // Suspends & Stops all threads in 
    // this group and its subgroups:
    System.out.println("All threads started");
    sys.suspend(); // Deprecated in Java 1.2
    // Never gets here...
    System.out.println("All threads suspended");
    sys.stop(); // Deprecated in Java 1.2
    System.out.println("All threads stopped");
  }
} ///:~ 

The
output that follows has been edited to allow it to fit on the page (the
java.lang.
has been removed) and to add numbers to correspond to the commented numbers in
the listing above.

(1) ThreadGroup[name=system,maxpri=10]
      Thread[main,5,system]
(2) ThreadGroup[name=system,maxpri=9]
      Thread[main,6,system]
(3) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=9]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
(4) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=8]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
(5) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=8]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
      Thread[B,8,g1]
(6) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=3]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
      Thread[B,8,g1]
      Thread[C,6,g1]
(7) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=3]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
      Thread[B,8,g1]
      Thread[C,3,g1]
(8) ThreadGroup[name=g2,maxpri=3]
(9) ThreadGroup[name=g2,maxpri=3]
(10)ThreadGroup[name=system,maxpri=9]
      Thread[main,6,system]
      ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=3]
        Thread[A,9,g1]
        Thread[B,8,g1]
        Thread[C,3,g1]
        ThreadGroup[name=g2,maxpri=3]
          Thread[0,6,g2]
          Thread[1,6,g2]
          Thread[2,6,g2]
          Thread[3,6,g2]
          Thread[4,6,g2]
Starting all threads:
All threads started

All
programs have at least one thread running, and the first action in
main( )
is to call the
static
method of
Thread
called
currentThread( ).
From this thread, the thread group is produced and
list( )
is called for the result. The output is:

(1) ThreadGroup[name=system,maxpri=10]
      Thread[main,5,system]

You
can see that the name of the main thread group is
system,
and the name of the main thread is
main,
and it belongs to the
system
thread group.

The
second exercise shows that the
system
group’s maximum priority can be reduced and the
main
thread can have its priority increased:

(2) ThreadGroup[name=system,maxpri=9]
      Thread[main,6,system]

The
third exercise creates a new thread group,
g1,
which automatically belongs to the
system
thread group since it isn’t otherwise specified. A new thread
A
is
placed in
g1.
After attempting to set this group’s maximum priority to the highest
level and
A’s
priority to the highest level, the result is:

(3) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=9]
      Thread[A,9,g1]

Thus,
it’s not possible to change the thread group’s maximum priority to
be higher than its parent thread group.

The
fourth exercise reduces
g1’s
maximum priority by two and then tries to increase it up to
Thread.MAX_PRIORITY.
The result is:

(4) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=8]
      Thread[A,9,g1]

You
can see that the increase in maximum priority didn’t work. You can only
decrease a thread group’s maximum priority, not increase it. Also, notice
that thread
A’s
priority didn’t change, and now it is higher than the thread
group’s maximum priority. Changing a thread group’s maximum
priority doesn’t affect existing threads.

The
fifth exercise attempts to set a new thread to maximum priority:

(5) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=8]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
      Thread[B,8,g1]

The
new thread cannot be changed to anything higher than the maximum thread group
priority.

The
default thread priority for this program is 6; that’s the priority a new
thread will be created at and where it will stay if you don’t manipulate
the priority. Exercise six lowers the maximum thread group priority below the
default thread priority to see what happens when you create a new thread under
this condition:

(6) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=3]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
      Thread[B,8,g1]
      Thread[C,6,g1]

Even
though the maximum priority of the thread group is 3, the new thread is still
created using the default priority of 6. Thus, maximum thread group priority
does not affect default priority. (In fact, there appears to be no way to set
the default priority for new threads.)

After
changing the priority, attempting to decrement it by one, the result is:

(7) ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=3]
      Thread[A,9,g1]
      Thread[B,8,g1]
      Thread[C,3,g1]

Only
when you attempt to change the priority is the thread group’s maximum
priority enforced.

A
similar experiment is performed in (8) and (9), in which a new thread group
g2
is
created as a child of
g1
and its maximum priority is changed. You can see that it’s impossible for
g2’s
maximum to go higher than
g1’s:

(8) ThreadGroup[name=g2,maxpri=3]
(9) ThreadGroup[name=g2,maxpri=3]

Also
notice that
g2
is automatically set to the thread group maximum priority of
g1
as
g2
is created.

After
all of these experiments, the entire system of thread groups and threads is
printed out:

(10)ThreadGroup[name=system,maxpri=9]
      Thread[main,6,system]
      ThreadGroup[name=g1,maxpri=3]
        Thread[A,9,g1]
        Thread[B,8,g1]
        Thread[C,3,g1]
        ThreadGroup[name=g2,maxpri=3]
          Thread[0,6,g2]
          Thread[1,6,g2]
          Thread[2,6,g2]
          Thread[3,6,g2]
          Thread[4,6,g2]

So
because of the rules of thread groups, a child group must always have a maximum
priority that’s less than or equal to its parent’s maximum priority.

The
last part of this program demonstrates methods for an entire group of threads.
First the program moves through the entire tree of threads and starts each one
that hasn’t been started. For drama, the
system
group is then suspended and finally stopped. (Although it’s interesting
to see that
suspend( )
and
stop( )
work on entire thread groups, you should keep in mind that these methods are
deprecated in Java 1.2.)
But when you suspend the
system
group you also suspend the
main
thread and the whole program shuts down, so it never gets to the point where
the threads are stopped. Actually, if you do stop the
main
thread it throws a
ThreadDeath
exception, so this is not a typical thing to do. Since
ThreadGroup
is inherited from
Object,
which contains the
wait( )
method, you can also choose to suspend the program for any number of seconds by
calling
wait(seconds
* 1000)
.
This must acquire the lock inside a synchronized block, of course.


[62]
The
Java Programming Language
,
by Ken Arnold and James Gosling, Addison-Wesley 1996 pp 179.

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