O'Reilly logo

Optimizing Java by Chris Newland, James Gough, Benjamin J Evans

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 6. Understanding Garbage Collection

The Java environment has several iconic or defining features, and garbage collection is one of the most immediately recognizable. However, when the platform was first released, there was considerable hostility to GC. This was fueled by the fact that Java deliberately provided no language-level way to control the behavior of the collector (and continues not to, even in modern versions).1

This meant that in the early days, there was a certain amount of frustration over the performance of Java’s GC, and this fed into perceptions of the platform as a whole.

However, the early vision of mandatory, non-user-controllable GC has been more than vindicated, and these days very few application developers would attempt to defend the opinion that memory should be managed by hand. Even modern takes on systems programming languages (e.g., Go and Rust) regard memory management as the proper domain of the compiler and runtime rather than the programmer (in anything other than exceptional circumstances).

The essence of Java’s garbage collection is that rather than requiring the programmer to understand the precise lifetime of every object in the system, the runtime should keep track of objects on the programmer’s behalf and automatically get rid of objects that are no longer required. The automatically reclaimed memory can then be wiped and reused.

There are two fundamental rules of garbage collection that all implementations are subject to:

  • Algorithms ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required