Guava tips: RateLimiter

Guava contains the very powerful RateLimiter class: you’re not going to need it often, but it’s a truly useful and beautiful piece of code. This class helps you limit the rate of acquisition of a resource with respect to time, so that no more than a certain number of permits can be issued in a second. For instance you can use it to limit the number of operations done in a second, or to limit the rate of some I/O.

Imagine you want to limit executions of some tasks to 2 per seconds:

final RateLimiter rateLimiter = RateLimiter.create(2.0);
void submitTasks(Runnable task) {

Before acquire returns, it might wait, if too many tasks have already been submitted in the last second.

Imagine now you want to limit the I/O rate to some output stream to, say, 5kb per second. In this case, we might use “one byte” as the permit size, and do something like:

RateLimiter rateLimiter = RateLimiter.create(5000);
byte[] buffer = new byte[BUFFER_SIZE];
while (true) {
    int len =;
    if (len <= 0) {
    rateLimiter.acquire(len); // Acquire enough permits to send "len" bytes
    os.write(buffer, 0, len);

To summarize: RateLimiter is a class that you will rarely use. However, for the times when you do need something like it, you will be glad it has already been written.