Friday, December 26, 2014

String pool concept in Java

String pooling (sometimes also called as string canonicalisation) is a process of replacing several String objects with equal value but different identity with a single shared String object. This is the most basic and predominant concept that every Java developer should know. In this article, we understand the concept of pooling with the help of few examples.
You can create objects of the class String by using the new operator, by using the assignment operator ( = ), or by enclosing a value within double quotes ( " ). But you may have noticed a big difference in how these objects are created, stored, and referred by Java.

Let’s create two String objects with the value "JavaLatte" using the operator new :

This image illustrates the previous code.

In the previous code, a comparison of the String reference variables str1 and str2 prints false . The operator == compares the addresses of the objects referred to by the variables str1 and str2 . Even though these String objects store the same sequence of characters, they refer to separate objects that are stored at separate locations.

Let’s create two String objects with the value "Latte" using the assignment operator ( = ). 
The variables str3 and str4 and the objects referred to by these variables
In the previous example, the variables str1 and str2 referred to different String objects, even if they were created using the same sequence of characters. In the case of variables str3 and str4, the objects are created and stored in a pool of String objects. Before creating a new object in the pool, Java first searches for an object with similar contents.

When the following line of code executes, no String object with the value "Latte" is found in the pool of String objects:
String str3 = "Latte";
As a result, Java creates a String object with the value "Latte" in the pool of String objects referred to by variable str3. See the image for understanding this
When the following line of code executes, Java is able to find a String object with the value "Latte" in the pool of String objects:
String str4 = "Latte";

Java doesn’t create a new String object in this case, and the variable str4 refers to the existing String object "Latte".

You can also create a String object by enclosing a value within double quotes ( " ):

These values are reused from the String constant pool if a matching value is found. If a matching value isn’t found, the JVM creates a String object with the specified value and places it in the String constant pool:

Compare the preceding example with the following example, which creates a String object using the operator new and (only) double quotes and then compares their references:

The preceding code shows that object references of String objects that exist in the String constant pool and object references of String objects that don’t exist in the String constant pool don’t refer to the same String object, even if they define the same String value.

Where String pool is stored in memory

  • Java 6
    Permanent Generation part of the heap structure - the fixed size part of heap mainly used for storing loaded classes and string pool. Note that the permanent generation is not part of the heap. It's a separate space for class definitions and related data, as well as where interned strings live

  • Java 7
    The string pool was relocated to the heap. It means that you are no longer limited by a separate fixed size memory area. All strings are now located in the heap, as most of other ordinary objects, which allows you to manage only the heap size while tuning your application
Note strings in the JVM string pool are eligible for garbage collection if there are no references to them from your program roots. It means that if your interned string went out of scope and there are no other references to it – it will be garbage collected from the JVM string pool.

Use of String intern() method
Returns a canonical representation for the string object.

A pool of strings, initially empty, is maintained privately by the class String. When the intern method is invoked, if the pool already contains a string equal to this String object as determined by the equals(Object) method, then the string from the pool is returned. Otherwise, this String object is added to the pool and a reference to this String object is returned.

It follows that for any two strings s and t, s.intern() == t.intern() is true if and only if s.equals(t) is true.
All literal strings and string-valued constant expressions are interned.

String allocation, like any other object creation proves costly in time and memory.The JVM do some trickery while instantiating the string literals to increase performance and decrease memory overhead. To decease the number of creation of String object in JVM, the String class keeps a pool of Strings. Each time you create a string literal, the JVM checks the string literal pool first. If a string is found in the pool, a reference to the pooled string is return.if the String is not exist in the pool, a new string object is instantiates, then placed in the pool.

If you know anyone who has started learning java, why not help them out! Just share this post with them. Thanks for studying today!...


  1. Really its a great example on String pool, Thanks Pardeep, we are looking forward to hear you.

  2. Good example. Easy to follow.

  3. Great article.
    Does StringBuilder store its value in the String pool?
    Thank you.