Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is difference between ExecutorService's submit() and execute() method

It is a common multi-threading question thats generally asked in investment banking interviews (Barclays, Citibank, Morgan Stanley).
Lets first see the relation between ExecutorService and Executor interface.
Figure: ExecutorService extends Executor
Main differences between the two methods:
  1. The execute() method is declared in Executor interface while submit() method is declared in ExecutorService interface.
  2. The submit() method can accept both Runnable as well as Callable tasks, but execute() method can only accept a Runnable Task.
  3. execute() method returns void while submit() method returns Future object. Using future you can cancel the execution or retrieve the results of computation done by runnable/callable task.
  4. There is a difference when looking at exception handling. If your tasks throws an exception and if it was submitted with execute this exception will go to the uncaught exception handler (when you don’t have provided one explicitly, the default one will just print the stack trace to System.err). If you submitted the task with submit any thrown exception, checked exception or not, is then part of the task’s return status. For a task that was submitted with submit and that terminates with an exception, the Future.get will re-throw this exception, wrapped in an ExecutionException.
Final advise
You should prefer to use submit() method because it gives more flexibility to the programmer in terms of execution control i.e. you can check status of task, cancel a task or get the results of task. Additionally a better exception handling is possible using submit().
Finally, a working example of ExecutorService.
ExecutorService Example
import java.util.concurrent.*;

public class ExecutorExample {

    public void example() {
        ExecutorService executor = Executors.newFixedThreadPool(2);
        Callable<String> futureTask =
                new Callable<String>() {
                    public String call() throws Exception {
                        return searcher.search(target);
        final Future<String> future = executor.submit(futureTask);
        try {
            String result = future.get();
            System.out.println("result = " + result);
        } catch (InterruptedException | ExecutionException e) {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        ExecutorExample test = new ExecutorExample();

Explain Java Exception Class Hierarchy

Throwable sits at the top of Java Exception Class hierarchy. Exception and Error are the two direct subclasses that extends Throwable.
Below is the rough diagram for Java Exception Class Hierarchy.
Java Exception Class Hierarchy
Logically, there are three main types of Exceptions in Java:
It is an irrecoverable condition e.g. OutOfMemoryErrorStackoverflowErrorAssertionError etc. Right side of Exception Class Tree clearly illustrates Error Hierarchy.
Checked Exceptions
These classes extends Exception class but not part of RuntimeException, example includes:  IOExceptionSQLExceptionFileNotFoundException, etc. Developers need to declare/catch these exceptions using try-catch block.
Unchecked (Runtime) Exceptions
As illustrated in left most side of Tree in above diagram, anything that extends RuntimeException belongs to this category. It represents an error in our program’s logic which can not be reasonably recovered from at run time, for example NullPointerException, ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException. We do not need to declare/catch such exception in the method signature because these are not expected by any programmer. A custom unchecked exceptions can be created by extending from RuntimeException.

Is it possible to catch Exception before catching NullPointerException in single try-catch block?

No, compiler will complain. Lets see the code first.
Java Source
private void method1() {
    try {
        throw new NullPointerException("test");
    } catch (Exception e) {
    } catch (NullPointerException npe) {    
Compiler will report error on this line, because the super class of NullPointerException which is Exception, already has a catch block before NPE.
The correct way would be to move NPE before the exception catch block, as illustrated in the below code snippet.
private void method2() {
    try {
        throw new NullPointerException("test");
    } catch (NullPointerException npe) {
    } catch (Exception e) {

Monday, April 16, 2018

Swap two numbers in Java without temporary variable

Swap two numbers Java

There are mainly 3 approaches to swap two number in Java, we will discuss all of them in order of increasing relevancy from interview point of view.

Approach 1. Using a temporary variable

Two numbers can be swapped using a temporary variable.
void method3() {
    int x = 10, y = 5;

    int temp = x;
    x = y;
    y = temp;
    System.out.println("After swap x = " + x + ", y = " + y);
Program output
After swap x = 5, y = 10
But this approach is not of great relevance from interview point of view.

Without temp variable

Approach 2. Using sum of numbers

We can easily swap two numbers using summation approach, as illustrated in the below code snippet.
void method1() {
    int x = 10, y = 5;

    x = x + y; // x becomes 15
    y = x - y; // y becomes 15 - 5 = 10
    x = x - y; // x becomes 15 - 10 = 5
    System.out.println("After swap x = " + x + ", y = " + y);
But there are issues with this code due to integer overflow and underflow. This program will not behave as expected when sum of x and y crosses the (+/-)231 limit.
Integer overflow & underflow
If it overflows, it goes back to the minimum value (Integer.MIN_VALUE = -231) and continues from there. If it underflows, it goes back to the maximum value (Integer.MAX_VALUE = 231) and continues from there. The main issue here is that overflow and underflow are silent and you will not see any exceptions if it occurs.
Integer overflow example:
void integerOverflow() {
    int x = Integer.MAX_VALUE - 10;
    int y = Integer.MAX_VALUE - 10;
    int result = x + y;    
    System.out.println("sum = " + result);
Since variable result can not hold sum of two large integer values, so integer overflow will occur. Please be noted that there will be no exception, so user will never be notified about this behavior.
Program output
sum = -22
Did you know
Java 8 provides option to let programmer know about the underflow and overflow by making use of the new Math#addExact() and Math#subtractExact() methods which will throw an ArithmeticException on overflow/underflow.
Java 8 approach (safe approach)
public static boolean willAdditionOverflow(int left, int right) {
    try {
        Math.addExact(left, right);
        return false;
    } catch (ArithmeticException e) {
        return true;

Approach 3. Using XOR bitwise operator

Best way to swap two numbers without falling into trap of integer overflow problem is to use XOR bitwise operator.
What is Bitwise XOR
A bitwise XOR takes two bit patterns of equal length and performs the logical exclusive OR operation on each pair of corresponding bits. The result in each position is 1 if only the first bit is 1 or only the second bit is 1, but will be 0 if both are 0 or both are 1. In this we perform the comparison of two bits, being 1 if the two bits are different, and 0 if they are the same.
    0101 (decimal 2)
XOR 0011 (decimal 10)
  = 0110 (decimal 8)
Bitwise XOR Practical Use
Bitwise XOR can be used to flip the bits in a given number. Any bit may be toggled by XORing it with 1.
Java Code to swap two integer using XOR
void method2() {
    int x = 10;
    int y = 5;

    // Code to swap 'x' (1010) and 'y' (0101)
    x = x ^ y; // x now becomes 15 (1111)
    y = x ^ y; // y becomes 10 (1010)
    x = x ^ y; // x becomes 5 (0101)

    System.out.println("After swap: x = " + x + ", y = " + y);
Program output
After swap: x = 5, y = 10
That’s all.

Practical Usecase of Bitwise OR, AND and XOR operand

Bitwise AND
The operation may be used to determine whether a particular bit is set (1) or clear (0).
Bitwise OR
The bitwise OR may be used to set to 1 the selected bits of the register described above.
Bitwise XOR
The bitwise XOR may be used to invert selected bits in a register (also called toggle or flip). Any bit may be toggled by XORing it with 1.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

How will you pass attributes while redirect from one controller method to another in Spring MVC

You can use RedirectAttributes object which was introduced in Spring MVC 3.1 and populate it with data you want to keep for redirection.
This is most commonly needed when redirecting from one URL to another – e.g. the Post/Redirect/Get pattern.  Post/Redirect/Get Pattern
Post/Redirect/Get (PRG) is a web development design pattern that prevents some duplicate form submissions, creating a more intuitive interface for user agents (users). PRG supports bookmarks and the refresh button in a predictable way that does not create duplicate form submissions.
Example Controller that adds an attribute while doing a redirection to another controller method:
@RequestMapping(value = "/accounts", method = RequestMethod.POST)
 public String handle(Account account, BindingResult result, RedirectAttributes redirectAttrs) {
   if (result.hasErrors()) {
     return "accounts/new";
   // Save account ...
   redirectAttrs.addAttribute("id", account.getId()).addFlashAttribute("message", "Account created!");
   return "redirect:/accounts/{id}";
addFlashAttribute actually stores the attributes in a flashmap (which is internally maintained in the users session and removed once the next redirected request gets fulfilled), on the other addAttribute essentially constructs request parameters out of your attributes and redirects to the desired page with the request parameters. So the advantage will be that you can store pretty much any object in your flash attribute(as it is not serialized into request params at all, but maintained as an object), whereas with addAttribute since the object that you add gets transformed to a normal request param, you are pretty limited to the object types like String or primitives.
A FlashMap provides a way for one request to store attributes intended for use in another. This is most commonly needed when redirecting from one URL to another – e.g. the Post/Redirect/Get pattern. A FlashMap is saved before the redirect (typically in the session) and is made available after the redirect and removed immediately.
A FlashMap can be set up with a request path and request parameters to help identify the target request. Without this information, a FlashMap is made available to the next request, which may or may not be the intended recipient. On a redirect, the target URL is known and a FlashMap can be updated with that information. This is done automatically when the org.springframework.web.servlet.view.RedirectView is used.

How will you block two concurrent web application users from modifying the same underlying database row?

There are essentially two methods to handle this situation in JPA - Optimistic Locking and Pessimistic Locking. Optimistic Locking is more scalable approach which should be preferred unless there is very high thread contention.

1. Optimistic Locking Approach

All users/threads can read the data concurrently, but when more than one thread tries to update it simultaneously, the first one will win and all others will fail with OptimisticLockException, they have to try executing the update once again.
All you need to do to enable Optimistic Locking on a particular entity is to add a version field in it.
public class Product {

    private Long id;

    private long price;

    private long version;

@Version annotation enables Optimistic Locking on Productentity.

2. Pessimistic Locking Approach

When using pessimistic locking, hibernate locks the record for your exclusive use until you commit the transaction. This is typically achieved using  SELECT …​ FOR UPDATEstatement at the database level. In this case, any other transaction trying to update/access the same record will be blocked until the first transaction releases the lock.
This strategy gives better predictability at the price of performance and does not scale much. Internally it behaves like sequential access to a single record by all threads (read and write), that’s why scalability is a problem.
Typically, if you just specify the appropriate Isolation Level at the transaction level (Serializable), database will handle it automatically for you. Hibernate gives you options to obtain a exclusive pessimistic lock at the start of a new transaction. Below LockMode can be used to obtain a pessimistic lock in hibernate session.
acquired upon explicit user request using SELECT …​ FOR UPDATE on databases which support that syntax.
acquired upon explicit user request using a SELECT …​ FOR UPDATE NOWAIT in Oracle.
Please be noted that using above UPGRADE modes, you want to modify the loaded object and you don’t want any other thread to change it while you are in the process until you commit the transaction.
Isolation Levels affect what you see. Lock Modes affect what you are allowed to do.

What is difference between Transaction Isolation Level and LockModes?

Isolation Levels affect what you see. Lock Modes affect what you are allowed to do.

Why not to handle Concurrency at Java level rather than database/hibernate level?

When we work with databases that support transaction, the management of concurrency must move away from Java code, and should be handled by database transaction isolation level and locking strategy. The main reasons for this are -
  1. It makes our code simpler, handling concurrency at database level is easier.
  2. If you manage concurrency at JVM level, your application will break when moved to multiple distributed JVMs, so the solution will never scale. On the other hand, database is single point of entry that can handle concurrency even if multiple JVMs are invoking parallel requests.
  3. Even if you have single JVM setup, optimistic locking may yield higher performance compared to your own hand woven synchronized Java code.

Java Source Code

To be added