Java Executor Vs Scala ExecutionContext

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Java supports low-level of concurrency and some of rich api’s which is just a wrapper of low-level constructs like wait, notify, synchronize etc, But with Java concurrent packages Scala have high level concurrency frameworks for “which goal to achieve, rather than how to achieve“. These types of programming paradigms are “Asynchronous programming using Futures“, “Reactive programming using event streams“, “Actor based programming” and more.

Note: Thread creation is much more expensive then allocating a single object, acquiring a monitor lock or updating an entry in a collection.

For high-performance multi-threading application we should use single thread for handling many requests and a set of such reusable threads usually called thread pool.


In java, Executor is a interface for encapsulate the decision of how to run concurrently executable work tasks, with an abstraction. In other words, this interface provides a way of decoupling task submission from the mechanics of how each task will be run, including details of thread use, scheduling, etc

Java Executor :

  1. leaderExecutor decide on which thread and when to call run method of Runnable object.
  2. Executor object can start a new thread specifically for this invocation of execute or even the execute the Runnable object directly on the caller thread.
  3. Tasks scheduling is depends on implementation of Executor.
  4. ExecutorService is a sub interface of Executor for manage termination and methods that can produce a future for tracking progress of one or more asynchronous tasks.
  5. In Java some basic Executor implementations are ThreadPoolExecutor (JDK 5), ForkJoinPoll (JDK 7) etc or developers should are provide custom implementation of Executor.

scala.concurrent package defines the  ExecutionContext trait that offers a similar functionality of that Executor object but it more specific to Scala. Scala object take  ExecutionContext object as implicit parameter. ExecutionContext have two abstract method execute(same as Java Executor method) and reportFailure (takes Throwable object and is called whenever some tasks throw an exception)

Scala ExecutionContext:

  1. ExecutionContext also have an companion object which have some methods for creating ExecutionContext object from Java Executor or ExecutorService (act as a bridge between Java and Scala)
  2. ExecutionContext companion object contains the default execution context called global which internally uses a ForkJoinPool instance.

The Executor and ExecutionContext object are a attractive concurrent programming abstraction, but they are not without culprits. They can improve throughputs by reusing the same set of threads for different tasks but are unable to execute tasks if those threads becomes unavailable, because all thread are busy with running other tasks.

Note: java.util.concurrent.Executors is a utility class, which is used to create create thread pool according to requirements.


  1. Learning Concurrent Programming in Scala by Aleksandar Prokopec.

  2. Scala api’s docs.

  3. Java api’s docs.


Written by 

Harmeet Singh is a lead consultant, with experience of more than 5 years. He has expertise in Scala, Java, JVM, and functional programming. On a personal front; he is a food lover.

1 thought on “Java Executor Vs Scala ExecutionContext2 min read

  1. Superb explanation & it’s too clear to understand the concept as well, keep sharing admin with some updated information with right examples.Keep update more posts.

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