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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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17.1. Synchronization

The Java programming language provides multiple mechanisms for communicating between threads. The most basic of these methods is synchronization, which is implemented using monitors. Each object in Java is associated with a monitor, which a thread can lock or unlock. Only one thread at a time may hold a lock on a monitor. Any other threads attempting to lock that monitor are blocked until they can obtain a lock on that monitor. A thread t may lock a particular monitor multiple times; each unlock reverses the effect of one lock operation.

The synchronized statement (§14.19) computes a reference to an object; it then attempts to perform a lock action on that object’s monitor and does not proceed further until the lock action ...

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