Java Virtual Machine: Definition, Examples


Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is a software-based machine that serves as a platform for running Java bytecode. It offers a runtime environment for Java applications, providing features like security and portability. Notably, JVM translates the bytecode into machine language, enabling the same compiled Java program to run on different devices.


“Java Virtual Machine” in phonetics would be: /”dʒɑ:və ‘vərtʃuəl mə’ʃi:n/.

Key Takeaways

Three Main Takeaways about Java Virtual Machine (JVM)

  1. Platform Independence: JVM is a part of the Java Run Environment (JRE) that converts Java bytecode into machine language and executes it, allowing Java code to be platform-independent.
  2. Memory Management: JVM plays a crucial role in memory management. It allocates and deallocates memory space for objects and also handles garbage collection, freeing up memory space from objects that are no longer in use.
  3. Execution Engine: JVM includes an execution engine that reads Java bytecode and interprets it, or compiles it to machine code and then executes it, providing a seamless execution environment for Java applications.


The Java Virtual Machine or JVM is a vital piece of technology within the Java ecosystem, playing a crucial role in executing Java applications. It is an abstract computing machine which enables a computer to run a Java program by converting bytecode into machine language. JVM provides platform independence, one of the biggest advantages of Java programming, meaning the same Java program can run on different types of computers because the JVM handles the specifics of the operating system and hardware. This universality enhances software performance, extends support to dynamic scripting languages, optimizes program execution and overall, ensures the efficiency and functionality of the Java programming language.


The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) plays a vital role in the execution of Java applications, and it stands as a key element of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). Its primary purpose is to facilitate the execution of compiled Java binary code, called bytecode, across multiple computing platforms without the need for recompilation. JVM thus ensures the platform independence that differentiates Java from other programming languages, allowing a single Java written application to run reliably on any supported hardware/operating system combination.In addition to running applications, the Java Virtual Machine provides several other critical functions. It manages and optimizes system resources, including memory allocation, and enforces strict, built-in safety rules for executing Java code, preventing applications from performing actions that could harm the host system or compromise data security. Additionally, JVM orchestrates the garbage collection process, automatically freeing memory that an application no longer needs, which helps enhance the performance and efficiency of Java applications.


1. Android Operating System – Earlier versions of Android used Dalvik, a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) optimized for mobile devices. It allowed Android apps written in Java to be executed on various devices irrespective of the underlying hardware.2. Apache Hadoop – It’s an open-source software platform for distributed storage and processing of large datasets. Its core components like Hadoop Common, Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Hadoop YARN and Hadoop MapReduce are all written in Java and therefore run on JVM, which allows Hadoop to provide high-level interoperability and portability across heterogeneous hardware and software platforms.3. Eclipse IDE (Integrated Development Environment) – Eclipse is a popular IDE primarily used for Java development. It uses JVM to compile and run Java programs, thus providing developers with a platform-independent and standardized environment.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q: What is a Java Virtual Machine (JVM)?**A: The Java Virtual Machine is a software implementation of a physical machine. JVM executes the byte code generated by the Java compiler and produces output.**Q: What are the main functions of JVM?**A: JVM performs four main tasks: it loads code, verifies code, executes code, and provides runtime environment.**Q: Why is JVM platform independent?**A: JVM plays a key role in making Java Platform independent. The bytecode generated by the Java Compiler can be executed on any machine by using JVM, making Java as platform independent.**Q: Is JVM a compiler or an interpreter?**A: JVM itself is not a compiler or interpreter. It is essentially a runtime interpreter which interprets bytecode and gives output.**Q: What is garbage collection in the context of JVM?**A: Garbage Collection is an automatic memory management feature in JVM. It automatically reclaims the runtime unused memory blocks to enhance the performance of the application.**Q: How does JVM execute the byte code?**A: JVM executes the byte code line by line using an interpreter, or it can use JIT (Just-In-Time) compiler which compiles the byte code prior to execution.**Q: Can JVM run languages other than Java?**A: Yes, there are many languages other than Java that have been implemented using JVM. These include Scala, Groovy, and Kotlin.**Q: What is the difference between a JVM and a JDK (Java Development Kit)?**A: JVM is a part of JDK and it provides the platform to execute Java programs. On the other hand, the JDK is a software development environment used to develop Java applications and applets.**Q: Can I install multiple versions of JVM on my machine?**A: Yes, you can install multiple versions of JVM on your computer. However, you must be careful to use the correct version for your specific needs.**Q: Does JVM affect the performance of my system?**A: Since JVM is a software-based machine, its performance can vary based on several factors like the efficiency of the code, hardware architecture, among others. Usually, optimized and well-written Java code can run efficiently with JVM.

Related Tech Terms

  • Bytecode
  • Garbage Collection
  • Just-In-Time Compiler
  • Java Runtime Environment (JRE)
  • Stack and Heap Memory

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents