Popular Posts

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Difference between Soft, Weak and Phantom reference in Java

weak reference is related to garbage collection. Normally, object having one or more reference will not be eligible for garbage collection. Thea above rule is not applicable when it is weak reference. It an object has only weak reference with other objects, then its ready for garbage collection.
Let's now look at the below example. We have an Map with Objects where Key is Some Class Reference object.


import java.util.HashMap;   
public class Test {

    public static void main(String args[]) {
        HashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal> aMap = new 
                       HashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal>();

        Employee emp = new Employee("Vinoth");
        EmployeeVal val = new EmployeeVal("Programmer");

        aMap.put(emp, val);

        emp = null;

        System.gc();
        System.out.println("Size of Map" + aMap.size());

    }
}
Now, during the execution of the program we have made emp = null. The Map holding the the key makes no sense here as the it is null. In the above situaton, the object is not garbage collected.
WeakHashMap
WeakHashMap is one where the entries (key-to-value mappings) will be removed when it is no longer possible to retrieve them from the map.
Let me show the above example same with WeakHashMap
import java.util.WeakHashMap;

public class Test {

    public static void main(String args[]) {
        WeakHashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal> aMap = 
                    new WeakHashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal>();

        Employee emp = new Employee("Vinoth");
        EmployeeVal val = new EmployeeVal("Programmer");

        aMap.put(emp, val);

        emp = null;

        System.gc();
        int count = 0;
        while (0 != aMap.size()) {
            ++count;
            System.gc();
        }
        System.out.println("Took " + count
                + " calls to System.gc() to result in weakHashMap size of : "
                + aMap.size());
    }
}
Took 20 calls to System.gc() to result in aMap size of : 0.
WeakHashMap has only weak references to the keys, not strong references like other Map classes. There are situations which you have to take care when the value or key is strongly referenced though you have used WeakHashMap. This can avoided by wrapping the object in a WeakReference.
import java.lang.ref.WeakReference;
import java.util.HashMap;

public class Test {

    public static void main(String args[]) {
        HashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal> map = 
                      new HashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal>();
        WeakReference<HashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal>> aMap = 
                       new WeakReference<HashMap<Employee, EmployeeVal>>(
                map);

        map = null;

        while (null != aMap.get()) {
            aMap.get().put(new Employee("Vinoth"),
                    new EmployeeVal("Programmer"));
            System.out.println("Size of aMap " + aMap.get().size());
            System.gc();
        }
        System.out.println("Its garbage collected");
    }
}
Soft References.
Soft Reference is slightly stronger that weak reference. Soft reference allows for garbage collection, but begs the garbage collector to clear it only if there is no other option.
The garbage collector does not aggressively collect softly reachable objects the way it does with weakly reachable ones -- instead it only collects softly reachable objects if it really "needs" the memory. Soft references are a way of saying to the garbage collector, "As long as memory isn't too tight, I'd like to keep this object around. But if memory gets really tight, go ahead and collect it and I'll deal with that." The garbage collector is required to clear all soft references before it can throw OutOfMemoryError.

No comments: