Sunday, 24 September 2017

Difference between the Runnable and Callable interface in Java

        This is also one of the important question of Java interview for middle level developer.  Runnable interface is added in JDK 1.0 where as Callable was added much later i.e in Java 5, along with many other concurrent features CopyOnWriteArrayList, ConcurrentHashMap, BlockingQueue and ExecutorService .
        If you see basic functionality both Callable and Runnable interfaces are implemented by any class whose instances are to be executed by another thread.  Callable interface have a some extra features which were not there in Runnable.  Those features are,
  • Callable can return value
  • It can throw exception 

Difference between Runnable and Callable:--

1)  The Callable and Runnable are interfaces and both have a single method but that method and it's signature is different.


   public interface Runnable {
               public abstract void run();

Callable :

   public interface Callable<V> { 
               V call() throws Exception;

2)  Callable interface is a part of the java.util.concurrent package whereas Runnable interface is a part of the java.lang package.

3)  If you have noticed the signature of call method in the callable interface, you can see that call method can return value

      V call() throws Exception

     In the above code, V is the computed result.  Callable is a generic interface and type is provided at the time of creating an instance of Callable implementation.


   Callable<Integer> callableObj = new    Callable<Integer>() {
          public Integer call() throws Exception {
               return 2;

run() method of Runnable interface doesn't return any value,  return type is void. 

    public void run() {
         //does not return anything
4)  Another difference that can be noticed from the signatures of the call() and run() method is that you can not give a exception with throws clause in run method.

  This below statement will give compile time error,

    public void run() throws InterruptedException
In call() method exception can be given with throws clause, as below.

    public Integer call() throws InterruptedException

5)  In order to run runnable task options are ,
  • Thread class has a constructor that takes Runnable as parameter.
  • Executor interface has execute method which takes Runnable as parameter.
  • ExecutorService has submit method which takes Runnable as parameter.
For Callable,
  • Thread class doesn't have any constructor that takes Callable as a parameter.
  • ExecutorService has submit method which takes Callable as a parameter.
  • ExecutorService also has invokeAll and invokeAny methods that takes Callable as a parameter.
  • Executors class has callable method that can convert Runnable to Callable 
    Callable callable = Executors.callable(Runnable task); 


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