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(pronounced deer-eh-jeest)

In the default JVM thread pools, once a thread is created it will only be retired when it hasn't performed a task in the last minute. In practice, this means that there are as many threads as the peak historical number of concurrent tasks handled by the pool, forever. These thread pools are also poorly instrumented, making it difficult to tune their latency or throughput.

Dirigiste provides a fast, richly instrumented version of a java.util.concurrent.ExecutorService, and provides a means to feed that instrumentation into a control mechanism that can grow or shrink the pool as needed. Default implementations that optimize the pool size for thread utilization are provided.

It also provides an object pool mechanism that uses a similar feedback mechanism to resize itself, and is significantly simpler than the Apache Commons object pool implementation.

Full documentation can be found here.


In Leiningen:

[io.aleph/dirigiste "0.1.5"]

In Maven:



Using the default utilization executor is simple, via Executors.utilizationExecutor(...):

import io.aleph.dirigiste.Executors;


ExecutorService e = Executors.utilizationExecutor(0.9, 64);

This will create an executor which will try to size the pool such that 90% of the threads are active, but will not grow beyond 64 threads.

This executor exposes getStats and getLastStats methods, which can be used to examine the performance characteristics of the executor. getLastStats uses the last value passed to the control loop, so can return immediately. getStats returns the statistics gathered since the last control update, and so may contain 0 or more samples, and requires some amount of computation.

Since instrumentation will cause some small overhead, you may specify which dimensions you wish to collect, via the Metric class. The possible fields are as follows:

metric description
QUEUE_LATENCY the time spent on the queue for each task, in nanoseconds
TASK_LATENCY the time taken to complete a task, including time spent on the queue, in nanoseconds
QUEUE_LENGTH the length of the queue
TASK_ARRIVAL_RATE the rate of incoming tasks per second
TASK_COMPLETION_RATE the rate of completed tasks per second
TASK_REJECTION_RATE the rate of rejected tasks per second
UTILIZATION the portion of threads which are active, from 0 to 1

These metrics are surfaced via the Stats class, which provides getMean...() and get...(double quantile) for each metric. By default, the utilization executor will only measure utilization, but if we want to get the full range of metrics, we can instantiate it like this:

Executors.utilizationExecutor(0.9, 64, EnumSet.allOf(Executor.Metric));

This will allow us to track metrics which aren't required for the control loop, but are useful elsewhere.


All pools are defined via their generator, which is used to create and destroy the pooled objects:

public interface Pool.Generator<K,V> {
  V generate(K key) throws Exception;
  void destroy(K key, V val);

All pooled objects have an associated key. If objects have no external resources that must be explicitly disposed, destroy can be a no-op.

Object pools have three major functions, acquire, release, and dispose. Typically, objects will be taken out of the pool via acquire, and returned back via release once they've served their purpose:

pool = Pools.utilizationPool(generator, 0.9, 4, 1024);
Object obj = pool.acquire("foo");
pool.release("foo", obj);

However, if the object has expired, we can dispose of it:

pool.dispose("foo", obj);

A pooled object can be disposed of at any time, without having first been acquired.

To support non-blocking code, we may also acquire an object via a callback mechanism:

  new AcquireCallback() {
        public void handleObject(Object obj) {
                pool.release("foo", obj);

creating a custom controller

The Executor.Controller interface is fairly straightforward:

public interface Executor.Controller {
    boolean shouldIncrement(int currThreads);
    int adjustment(Stats stats);

The first method, shouldIncrement, controls whether a new thread should be spun up. This means that the thread limit can be dynamic, for instance dependent on the available memory. This method will be called whenever adjustment calls for more threads, or when a task is unable to be added to the queue.

The second method, adjustment, takes a Stats object, and returns a number representing how the pool size should be adjusted. The frequency with which adjustment is called is dictated by the controlPeriod parameter to the Executor constructor, and the number of samples in the Stats object is controlled by the samplePeriod parameter.

The utilization controller is quite simple:

Executor.Controller utilizationController(final double targetUtilization, final int maxThreadCount) {
  return new Controller() {
    public boolean shouldIncrement(int numWorkers) {
      return numWorkers < maxThreadCount;

    public int adjustment(Stats stats) {
      double correction = stats.getUtilization(0.9) / targetUtilization;
      return (int) Math.ceil(stats.getNumWorkers() * correction) - stats.getNumWorkers();

It adjusts the number of threads using the targetUtilization compared against the 90th percentile measured utilization over the last controlPeriod. Obviously more sophisticated methods are possible, but they're left as an exercise for the reader.

Pool.Controller works much the same, except that adjustment takes a Map of keys onto Stats objects, and returns a Map of keys onto Integer objects. The utilization controller is otherwise much the same:

public Pool.Controller utilizationController(final double targetUtilization, final int maxObjectsPerKey, final int maxTotalObjects) {

  return new Pool.Controller() {
    public boolean shouldIncrement(Objec t key, int objectsForKey, int totalObjects) {
      return (objectsForKey < maxObjectsPerKey) && (totalObjects < maxTotalObjects);

    public Map adjustment(Map<K, Stats> stats) {
      Map adj = new HashMap();

      for ( e : stats.entrySet()) {
        Map.Entry entry = (Map.Entry) e;
        Stats s = (Stats) entry.getValue();
        int numWorkers = s.getNumWorkers();
        double correction = s.getUtilization(0.9) / targetUtilization;
        int n = (int) Math.ceil(s.getNumWorkers() * correction) - numWorkers;

        adj.put(entry.getKey(), new Integer(n));

      return adj;


Copyright © 2015 Zachary Tellman

Distributed under the MIT License


centrally-planned object and thread pools






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