Java Main Thread

Once a Java program starts, one thread starts running immediately. This is usually called main thread of your program, because it is the one which is executed when your program starts. The main thread is important for the following two reasons:

  • It is the thread from which the other (child) threads will be spawned
  • Often, it must be the last thread to finish the execution as it performs various shutdown actions

Although the main thread is automatically created when your program starts, it can be controlled through a Thread object. To do so, you must obtain a reference to it by calling the method named currentThread(), is a public static member of the Thread. Its general form is :

static Thread currentThread()

This method returns a reference to the thread in which it is called. And once you have a reference to the main thread, you can control it just like any other thread.

Java Main Thread Example

Here is an example demonstrates the concept of main thread in Java:

/* Java Program Example - Java Main Thread
 * This program control the main Thread
 class JavaProgram
     public static void main(String args[])
         Thread thr = Thread.currentThread();
         System.out.println("Current thread : " + thr);
         /* change the name of the thread */
         thr.setName("My Thread");
         System.out.println("After name change : " + thr);
         try {
             for(int i=5; i>0; i--)
         } catch(InterruptedException e) {
             System.out.println("Main thread interrupted");

When the above Java program is compile and executed, it will produce the following output:

java main thread

In the above program, a reference to the current thread (main thread in this case) is obtained by calling the currentThread() method, and this reference is stored in the local variable i.e., thr. Next, the program displays the information about the thread. The program then calls setName() method to change the internal name of the thread. Data about the thread is then redisplayed. Next, a loop counts down from five, pausing one second between each line. The pause is executed by the sleep() method. The argument to sleep() specifies the delay period in milliseconds.

Notice here that the try/catch block around this loop. The sleep() method in the Thread might throw an interruptedException. It will happen only if some other thread wanted to interrupt this sleeping one. This program just prints a message (as shown in above program) if it gets interrupted.

Notice that the output produced when thr is used as an argument to println(). This displays, in order, the name of the thread, and its priority, and then the name of its group.

By default, the name of the main thread is main.And its priority is 5, which is the default value, and main is also the name of the group of threads to which this thread belongs to.

A thread group is a data structure that controls the state of a collection of threads as a whole. After the name of the thread is altered, thr is again output. This time, the new name of the thread is displayed.

In the above program, as you can see, sleep() causes the thread from which it is called to suspend execution for the given period of milliseconds. Its general form is :

static void sleep(long milliseconds) throws InterruptedException

The number of milliseconds to suspend is given in milliseconds. This method may throw an InterruptedException.

The sleep() has a second form, shown next, allows you to specify the period in terms of milliseconds and nanoseconds:

static void sleep(long milliseconds, int nanoseconds) throws InterruptedException

This second form of sleep() method is useful only in environments that allow timing periods as short as nanoseconds.

As the preceding program shows, you can use setName() method to set the name of a thread.

You can obtain the name of the thread by calling the method getName() (this method is not shown in the above program, but you can try it). These methods are the members of the Thread class and are declared like this :

final void setName(String threadName)
final String getName()

Here, threadName specifies the name of the thread.

Java Online Test

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