Divide-and-conquer algorithms using Fork-Join in Java

In the world of concurrent programming, divide-and-conquer algorithms play a vital role in solving complex problems efficiently. These algorithms break down a problem into smaller subproblems, solve each subproblem independently, and then combine the results to obtain the final solution. To leverage the power of divide-and-conquer algorithms in Java, the Fork-Join framework provides an excellent solution.

What is the Fork-Join framework?

The Fork-Join framework, introduced in Java 7, is a powerful mechanism for parallelizing divide-and-conquer algorithms. It is built around the concept of a work-stealing mechanism, where idle worker threads steal tasks from busy threads to ensure maximum utilization of system resources.

At the core of the Fork-Join framework is the ForkJoinPool class, which manages a pool of worker threads. Tasks in a Fork-Join algorithm are represented by instances of the RecursiveTask and RecursiveAction classes, which extend the ForkJoinTask class. These tasks are recursively split into smaller subtasks, and the framework handles the parallel execution and result combining.

Implementing a divide-and-conquer algorithm using Fork-Join

To illustrate the usage of the Fork-Join framework, let's consider an example of a divide-and-conquer algorithm to calculate the sum of an array of integers.

import java.util.concurrent.ForkJoinPool;
import java.util.concurrent.RecursiveTask;

public class SumCalculator extends RecursiveTask<Integer> {

    private static final int THRESHOLD = 10; // Threshold value to switch to sequential computation
    private int[] numbers;
    private int start;
    private int end;

    public SumCalculator(int[] numbers, int start, int end) {
        this.numbers = numbers;
        this.start = start;
        this.end = end;

    protected Integer compute() {
        int length = end - start;

        if (length <= THRESHOLD) {
            return computeSequentially();

        int mid = start + length / 2;

        SumCalculator leftTask = new SumCalculator(numbers, start, mid);
        SumCalculator rightTask = new SumCalculator(numbers, mid, end);

        leftTask.fork(); // Asynchronously execute the left subtask
        int rightResult = rightTask.compute(); // Compute the right subtask synchronously
        int leftResult = leftTask.join(); // Wait for the left subtask to complete and obtain the result

        return leftResult + rightResult;

    private int computeSequentially() {
        int sum = 0;
        for (int i = start; i < end; i++) {
            sum += numbers[i];
        return sum;

In the SumCalculator class, we extend the RecursiveTask class and override the compute() method, which is where the actual computation logic goes. We recursively split the array into smaller subarrays until the length of the subarray is less than or equal to the THRESHOLD value. At this point, we switch to sequential computation by calling the computeSequentially() method.

The fork() method is called to asynchronously execute the left subtask, while the right subtask is computed synchronously using the compute() method. Finally, we obtain the result of the left subtask using the join() method and return the combined result of both subtasks.

To use the SumCalculator class, create an instance of it with the array of numbers and pass it to a ForkJoinPool for execution:

public class Main {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        int[] numbers = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10};

        ForkJoinPool forkJoinPool = ForkJoinPool.commonPool();
        Integer sum = forkJoinPool.invoke(new SumCalculator(numbers, 0, numbers.length));

        System.out.println("Sum: " + sum);

In this example, we create a simple array of numbers and pass it along with the range to the SumCalculator class. We then use the invoke() method of the ForkJoinPool class to start the computation and obtain the final sum.


The Fork-Join framework in Java provides a powerful mechanism for implementing divide-and-conquer algorithms efficiently. By leveraging the work-stealing mechanism and the ForkJoinPool class, we can parallelize the computation of subtasks and combine the results to obtain the final solution. This framework simplifies the implementation of concurrent algorithms and allows for efficient utilization of system resources.

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