Maybe you've heard it said that in the world of the theater everything is an actor — but that still doesn't tell you what an actor is, or what it does. Start with some basic definitions, then watch inventor Carl Hewitt explain how he conceptualizes actors today.
If you've found yourself on this knowledge path, then chances are that you've hit some kind of wall with traditional Java concurrency. Whether it's a problem of scale (shared-state systems don't scale well to multiple cores) or complexity (how many Java locksmiths does it take to debug a double-checked lock?), actor concurrency really does offer some exciting alternatives for concurrent programming.
The best way to understand actors is to use them, and you'll find plenty of incentive here. Whether you want to upgrade common object-oriented patterns or explore the efficiencies of functional programming, actor frameworks like μJavaActors, Kilim, Akka, and GPars will ease you into this new paradigm of concurrent programming.
While the Java language doesn't currently support actors, there are plenty of Java-compatible implementations to help you get started.
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