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Internal Workings of ConcurrentHashMap

Exploring the Internal Workings of ConcurrentHashMap

Internal Workings of ConcurrentHashMap


Concurrency is a critical aspect of modern software development, especially when multiple threads are accessing and modifying shared data simultaneously. To address the challenges of concurrent programming, Java provides a powerful concurrent collection called ConcurrentHashMap. In this blog post, we will dive deep into the internal workings of ConcurrentHashMap and understand how it achieves thread-safety and high performance.

Understanding ConcurrentHashMap

ConcurrentHashMap is designed as a thread-safe alternative to the regular HashMap in Java. It allows multiple threads to access and modify the collection concurrently without the need for explicit synchronization. This concurrent collection is widely used in multi-threaded applications where efficient and safe concurrent access to a shared map is required.

  1. Segmented Structure:
    ConcurrentHashMap internally divides its data into a fixed number of segments, which are essentially independent hash tables. Each segment is responsible for a subset of the overall data, reducing contention among threads. By default, the number of segments is determined based on the number of available processors, but it can also be customized during creation.
  2. Lock Striping:
    To further improve concurrency, ConcurrentHashMap employs a technique called lock striping. Instead of using a single lock for the entire data structure, it uses multiple locks, with each lock guarding a specific segment. This means that different threads can concurrently operate on different segments without contention, enhancing parallelism.
  3. Hash-based Partitioning:
    When a key-value pair is inserted or retrieved, ConcurrentHashMap uses the key’s hash code to determine the segment in which it belongs. This hash-based partitioning ensures that different keys are distributed across the segments, minimizing the likelihood of collisions and contention.
  4. Fine-Grained Locking:
    Each segment in ConcurrentHashMap applies fine-grained locking. This means that while a segment is being modified by one thread, other threads can still read or modify other segments simultaneously. It allows for efficient and concurrent access to the collection, as threads only contend for locks when accessing the same segment.
  5. Thread-Safe Operations:
    ConcurrentHashMap provides several thread-safe operations, including get, put, remove, and size. These operations can be safely invoked from multiple threads concurrently without causing any data corruption or inconsistent behavior. Each segment ensures that modifications and reads are properly synchronized, maintaining data integrity.
  6. Iteration and Weakly Consistent Views:
    ConcurrentHashMap supports iteration over its key-value pairs using the keySet(), values(), and entrySet() methods. Iterating over the collection provides a weakly consistent view, meaning that the iterator doesn’t reflect the most recent updates. However, it guarantees that the iterator won’t throw any concurrent modification exceptions.


ConcurrentHashMap is a powerful concurrent collection that provides efficient and thread-safe access to shared data. By dividing the data into segments, applying lock striping, and using fine-grained locking, ConcurrentHashMap achieves high concurrency and performance. It offers a reliable solution for multi-threaded applications that require concurrent access to a map-like data structure.

Understanding the internal workings of ConcurrentHashMap helps us make informed decisions when choosing the right concurrent collection for our application’s needs. With its robust concurrency mechanisms, ConcurrentHashMap simplifies concurrent programming and ensures data consistency in multi-threaded environments.

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