Use the wait() and notify() Methods in Java

Sheeraz Gul Aug 30, 2022
Use the wait() and notify() Methods in Java

This tutorial demonstrates the wait() and notify() methods in Java.

Use the wait() and notify() Methods in Java

The wait() and notify() methods provide a mechanism to allow the thread to wait until a specific condition is met. For example, when you want to write blocking queue implementation for some fixed size backing store of elements.

The wait() and notify() are used in the guarded blocks in Java, which coordinate the actions of multiple threads. The wait() method is used to suspend a thread and notify() to wake up the thread.

the wait() Method

The wait() method will force the current thread to wait until some other threads are completed, or they invoke notify() or notifyAll() methods on the same object. The wait() methods can be used in the following different ways:

  1. Using wait():

    This is the simple calling of the wait() method, which will cause the current thread to wait indefinitely until the other threads invoke the notify() or notifyAll() methods.

  2. Using wait(long timeout):

    With this call of the wait() method, we can specify a timeout, after which the thread will be woken up automatically, where the timeout is a long time value.

    The thread can also be woken up before the timeout using the notify() and notifyAll() methods. Putting the value 0 in the timeout parameter will work similarly to the wait() call.

  3. Using wait(long timeout, int nanos):

    This call will also work similarly to the wait(long timeout). The only difference is that we can provide a higher precision.

    The timeout period is calculated in nanoseconds as 1_000_000*timeout + nanos.

the notify() and notifyAll() Methods

The notify() functionality is used to wake up the threads waiting to access the object monitor. The notify() functionality can be used in two ways:

  1. Using notify():

    For all waiting threads, the notify() method will notify only one specific thread to wake up. Selecting the thread to wake up is not deterministic, which depends on the implementation.

    Since the notify() can only wake up one thread, it might not be useful when we want to wake multiple threads.

  2. Using notifyAll():

    The notifyAll() will wake up all the threads on the object monitor. When the threads are awakened, they will complete in the usual manner like the other threads.

Let’s try an example that blocks the threads using the wait() method and wakes up using the notify() method:

package delftstack;

import java.util.LinkedList;
import java.util.Queue;

public class Example<T> {

    private Queue<T> Demo_Queue = new LinkedList<T>();
    private int Q_Capacity;

    public Example(int Q_Capacity) {
        this.Q_Capacity = Q_Capacity;

    public synchronized void put(T Demo_Element) throws InterruptedException {
        while(Demo_Queue.size() == Q_Capacity) {

        // Wake up the thread. notifyAll() can also be used for multiple threads

    public synchronized T take() throws InterruptedException {
        while(Demo_Queue.isEmpty()) {
            // Ask the thread to wait

        T item = Demo_Queue.remove();
        // Wake up the thread. notifyAll() can also be used for multiple threads
        return item;

The code above demonstrates a simple queue blocking operation where we need to ensure that any wait() and notify() calls will be in the synchronized region of the code.

Author: Sheeraz Gul
Sheeraz Gul avatar Sheeraz Gul avatar

Sheeraz is a Doctorate fellow in Computer Science at Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xian, China. He has 7 years of Software Development experience in AI, Web, Database, and Desktop technologies. He writes tutorials in Java, PHP, Python, GoLang, R, etc., to help beginners learn the field of Computer Science.

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