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A thread, by definition is a light weight process. They are used to increase functionality and performance by performing multiple tasks at the same time, i.e. concurrently. There are two methods for implementing threads in Java,

* Implementing an interface
* Extending a class

I'd assume that the reader is familiar with the basic Object Oriented Paradigm concepts and understands terms like 'extending', 'interface' and 'class'. Now you may start wondering why are there two ways to create threads. This is because if a class is already an inherited class of some class other than 'Thread', then it cannot extend 'Thread' because multiple inheritance is not allowed in the Java programming language. So, in such cases we use 'Runnable' interface instead.

Now, let's jump onto the coding part on how to actually create threads. The first method is to extend or inherit the 'Thread' class. The 'Thread' class is defined in the package java.lang, which needs to be imported. Take a look at the code below to get a better idea,
import java.lang.*;
public class myExample extends Thread
      public void run()

The other way to do this is to implement 'Runnable', as shown below,
import java.lang.*;
  public class myExample implements Runnable
      Thread T;
      public void run()

Notice that both the methods make use of the 'run()' function, which is responsible for the actions of the thread. The 'Runnable' interface actually is nothing but a class containing only one abstract method, 'public abstract void run();'. Remember an interface only provides a design framework upon which classes can be implemented. It is also interesting to note that actually the 'Thread' class also implements the 'Runnable' interface.

M. S. Rakha, Ph.D.
Queen's University

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