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The Java® Language Specification, Java SE 7 Edition, Fourth Edition by Alex Buckley, Gilad Bracha, Guy Steele, Bill Joy, James Gosling

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12.6. Finalization of Class Instances

The class Object has a protected method called finalize; this method can be overridden by other classes. The particular definition of finalize that can be invoked for an object is called the finalizer of that object. Before the storage for an object is reclaimed by the garbage collector, the Java Virtual Machine will invoke the finalizer of that object.

Finalizers provide a chance to free up resources that cannot be freed automatically by an automatic storage manager. In such situations, simply reclaiming the memory used by an object would not guarantee that the resources it held would be reclaimed.

The Java programming language does not specify how soon a finalizer will be invoked, except to say that it ...

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