Search results

Java: Garbage collection

  • Garbage collection is Java’s process for freeing up memory by removing old object references that are no longer valid.

Java relies on garbage collection. A garbage collector removes unused objects from memory and lets your programs re-use memory rather than constantly grow. For very small programs, this constant growth doesn’t matter much. However, even a program of fairly low complexity and scale can quickly chew through a lot of memory. Therefore, most programs really need some kind of garbage collection mechanism.

When they use many other languages, including C++, programmers have to manage memory themselves, writing code to remove objects from memory at the right time. Java frees developers from this problem. That’s not to say that Java is better than C++. Both languages have their strengths and weaknesses. Many developers who prefer Java would tell you that having to manage memory yourself is a weakness in C++ and that garbage collection is a strength of Java. Conversely, many C++ developers would tell you the opposite. Both are true: Garbage collection can be a problem in Java, yet is also an inherent feature and very powerful if managed correctly. … If an object no longer has references held on it by other objects, that object gets garbage collected. In other words, once an object no longer has any other objects using it, that object is ready to be removed from memory. Yet another way to say this is that the object is now unreachable, meaning that no other bit of code can reach that object. Java 7 for Absolute Beginners

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.