Lightweight finalization for the JDK without any drawbacks was: Why is finalize wrong?

Jaroslav Tulach jaroslav.tulach at
Mon Aug 18 10:46:15 UTC 2014

Dne Pá 15. srpna 2014 08:39:20, Doug Lea napsal(a):
> Sorry for not answering this before you filed JDK-8055183.

No need to apologize, Doug. I don't mind filling issues. We use their mutual 
dependencies to track related but otherwise independent problems in NetBeans 
bugzilla. I thought OpenJDK would follow the same habits, but I might have 
been wrong.

> On 08/13/2014 07:12 AM, Jaroslav Tulach wrote:
> > As far as I understand Andrew's inquiry, the problem is not (that much)
> > related to finalizers, rather to question whether following method can
> > ever
> > 
> > finish or not:
> >      private void gcThis() {
> >      
> >          Reference<?> ref = new WeakReference<>(this);
> >          while (ref.get() != null) {
> >          
> >              System.gc();
> >          
> >          }
> >          System.err.println("ref is gone: " + ref);
> >      
> >      }
> > 
> > On Oracle's JDK8 the method has never finished for me. However when I
> > tried
> > IBM's JDK (identification can be found below) the method finished every
> > time! A bit of consistency would be beneficial in this area, imho.
> I believe that either behavior is legal under current JLS specs.  See
> in particular sec 12.6.2
> (
> Among the few guaranteed ways to ensure that "this" is kept reachable
> (and not GCable) is to write "this" somewhere after its fields are
> used.  In other cases, a reference may or may not be kept reachable in
> any given JVM, depending on safepoint schemes, whether the collector
> is concurrent, etc.
> The surprisingness of the rules, and the lack of any other means of
> control have been known issues for years. Because reachability
> interacts with other memory ordering rules (for example, just to
> explain what "after" means above), we are discussing changes as part
> of the JMM revisions. (See archives at
> These extend some
> previous discussions and proposals that we never pushed through for
> JDK7.

I see, but let me add one observation: reachability of objects is one thing; 
but reachability of this while its instance method is executing is something 
completely different. 

A general solution to reachability of objects would certainly provide a 
solution to reachability of this, but there is no reason to require solution 
to general reachability to come up with a way to keep this reachable when its 
instances methods (or some of them) are being executed. 

At the end JVM is an object oriented VM and requiring special treatment of 
this is much more acceptable than doing so in a generic purpose VM like LVVM 
for example.

@GCThisIfYouWant public void instanceMethod() {


@PreventGCOfThis public void instanceMethod() {

would imho do the trick. Of course it does not help with the more intricate 
problems of memory management, but one can always claim that proper memory 
cleanup in concurrent programs is hard.

On contrary trying to say that "preventing GC of this while its instance 
method is running is hard" might be seen ridiculous in object oriented VM 
(while I understand that it is in compliance with current spec).

> Minimally, there should be a means of forcing reachability without
> forcing writes. One (old, unshipped) version of this can be found at
> ces.html
> As first discovered by Hans Boehm, it just so happens that one way to
> implement the equivalent of reachabilityFence(x) even now is
> "synchronized(x) {}". (See Hans's 2005 JavaOne slides at

Thanks. I'll take a note of

• Finalizers
 risk deallocating resources still in use by
executing methods of unreachable object.
• Can be addressed with synchronization.

> But I suspect that
> a less weird and more efficient intrinsic will be introduced for JDK9.

Good, I think it woud make sense - especially for the "this" case.

> Beyond this, we are discussing prospects for extending reachability
> without programmers needing to use lots of reachabilityFences,
> possibly by introducing an @Finalized annotation to automate common
> cases.  I don't think there is consensus on this yet, in part because
> there does not seem to be a way to do this that eliminates all
> possible surprises/errors.
> In the mean time, your RFE JDK-8055183
> ( seems to overlap
> existing JMM revision efforts.  I don't know whether you'd like to
> keep it open as a reminder, or just close it.

If there was a better way to track the progress I would just add it to the 
issue and close it. Up to you to decide. I am fine with any action.

All I wanted was to clearly separate these reachability related issues from 
JDK-8051843 which is about replacing Object.finalize() with 
ReferenceQueue+cleanup thread. I believe such separation has happened and 
people interested in reachability of objects in memory can follow JDK-8055183 
and there in listed pointers.

Thanks for bearing with me.

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