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

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.

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.

Manikandan is Founder and author of codenread. Tech Blogger by Passion | Computer Science Engineer by Qualification