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Table of contents
What is a Process?
What is a Thread?
Process vs Thread
Process Thread
Threads in Java
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Process in Java?
What is a Thread in Java?
What is the main difference between a Process and a Thread in Java?
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Process vs Thread in Java

Author Gunjan Batra
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If you're delving into the world of Java, you've probably come across terms like 'process' and 'thread'. These concepts form the backbone of concurrent programming, a critical topic in Java, and understanding their difference is crucial for any Java developer. 

Process vs thread in java

Let's explore these two terms and understand how they impact your programs.

Read More, addition of two numbers in java

What is a Process?

In the simplest terms, a process is a program in execution. Each process has its own memory space, including the heap and stack memory. Consider it as a separate entity entirely. The Operating System manages these processes, deciding when they run and managing their resources. Here's an example of starting a new process in Java:

Process process = Runtime.getRuntime().exec("notepad.exe");

The above code starts a new process that opens Notepad.

What is a Thread?

A thread, on the other hand, is the smallest unit of execution within a process. If a process is a program in action, a thread is a pathway through which the program runs. A single process can have multiple threads, all sharing the same memory space. This shared memory model enables threads to communicate with each other more easily compared to processes. Below is an example of creating a new thread in Java:

Thread thread = new Thread(){
    public void run(){
        System.out.println("Thread Running");


The run method contains the code that the thread will execute.

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Process vs Thread

The major difference between processes and threads lies in their memory space and communication method. Processes have separate memory spaces, and inter-process communication is slower and more complex due to the need to protect memory spaces. Threads, however, share memory space, leading to faster and more straightforward communication.

Process Thread

  • Memory Space Separate for each process Shared within the process
  • Communication Method Inter-process communication (IPC) Direct method calls
  • Overhead Higher due to separate memory management Lower due to shared memory space
  • Creation and Termination More time-consuming Less time-consuming

Threads in Java

Java is a multithreaded language, allowing multiple threads to exist within the context of a single process. These threads can perform tasks simultaneously, improving the performance of complex applications. Java threads are objects of the Thread class or instances of classes extending the Thread class.

Also see, Java Ioexception

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Process in Java?

A Process in Java is an executing program with its own memory space managed by the operating system.

What is a Thread in Java?

A Thread in Java is the smallest unit of execution within a process. Multiple threads can exist within a single process, sharing the process's memory space.

What is the main difference between a Process and a Thread in Java?

The main difference lies in their memory space: Processes have separate memory spaces, while threads within the same process share memory.


Understanding the distinction between processes and threads is fundamental to programming in Java, particularly for concurrent programming. Processes are independent executing programs with their own memory space, while threads are units of execution within a process, sharing the process's memory. By mastering these concepts, you'll be well on your way to harnessing Java's full power, writing efficient code, and advancing your software development journey.

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