Routing (Java)
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Routing (Java)

A Router is an actor that routes incoming messages to outbound actors. The router routes the messages sent to it to its underlying actors called 'routees'.

Akka comes with some defined routers out of the box, but as you will see in this chapter it is really easy to create your own. The routers shipped with Akka are:

  • akka.routing.RoundRobinRouter
  • akka.routing.RandomRouter
  • akka.routing.SmallestMailboxRouter
  • akka.routing.BroadcastRouter
  • akka.routing.ScatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter
  • akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter

Routers In Action

This is an example of how to create a router that is defined in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter1 {
    router = round-robin
    nr-of-instances = 5
  }
}
ActorRef router = system.actorOf(
  new Props(ExampleActor.class).withRouter(new FromConfig()), "router");

This is an example of how to programmatically create a router and set the number of routees it should create:

int nrOfInstances = 5;
ActorRef router1 = system.actorOf(
  new Props(ExampleActor.class).withRouter(new RoundRobinRouter(nrOfInstances)));

You can also give the router already created routees as in:

ActorRef actor1 = system.actorOf(new Props(ExampleActor.class));
ActorRef actor2 = system.actorOf(new Props(ExampleActor.class));
ActorRef actor3 = system.actorOf(new Props(ExampleActor.class));
Iterable<ActorRef> routees = Arrays.asList(
  new ActorRef[] { actor1, actor2, actor3 });
ActorRef router2 = system.actorOf(
  new Props().withRouter(RoundRobinRouter.create(routees)));

Note

No actor factory or class needs to be provided in this case, as the Router will not create any children on its own (which is not true anymore when using a resizer). The routees can also be specified by giving their path strings.

When you create a router programmatically you define the number of routees or you pass already created routees to it. If you send both parameters to the router only the latter will be used, i.e. nrOfInstances is disregarded.

It is also worth pointing out that if you define the ``router`` in the configuration file then this value will be used instead of any programmatically sent parameters. The decision whether to create a router at all, on the other hand, must be taken within the code, i.e. you cannot make something a router by external configuration alone (see below for details).

Once you have the router actor it is just to send messages to it as you would to any actor:

router.tell(new MyMsg());

The router will forward the message to its routees according to its routing policy.

Remotely Deploying Routees

In addition to being able to supply looked-up remote actors as routees, you can make the router deploy its created children on a set of remote hosts; this will be done in round-robin fashion. In order to do that, wrap the router configuration in a RemoteRouterConfig, attaching the remote addresses of the nodes to deploy to. Naturally, this requires you to include the akka-remote module on your classpath:

Address addr1 = new Address("akka", "remotesys", "otherhost", 1234);
Address addr2 = AddressFromURIString.parse("akka://[email protected]:1234");
Address[] addresses = new Address[] { addr1, addr2 };
ActorRef routerRemote = system.actorOf(new Props(ExampleActor.class)
  .withRouter(new RemoteRouterConfig(new RoundRobinRouter(5), addresses)));

How Routing is Designed within Akka

Routers behave like single actors, but they should also not hinder scalability. This apparent contradiction is solved by making routers be represented by a special RoutedActorRef (implementation detail, what the user gets is an ActorRef as usual) which dispatches incoming messages destined for the routees without actually invoking the router actor’s behavior (and thus avoiding its mailbox; the single router actor’s task is to manage all aspects related to the lifecycle of the routees). This means that the code which decides which route to take is invoked concurrently from all possible senders and hence must be thread-safe, it cannot live the simple and happy life of code within an actor.

There is one part in the above paragraph which warrants some more background explanation: Why does a router need a “head” which is actual parent to all the routees? The initial design tried to side-step this issue, but location transparency as well as mandatory parental supervision required a redesign. Each of the actors which the router spawns must have its unique identity, which translates into a unique actor path. Since the router has only one given name in its parent’s context, another level in the name space is needed, which according to the addressing semantics implies the existence of an actor with the router’s name. This is not only necessary for the internal messaging involved in creating, restarting and terminating actors, it is also needed when the pooled actors need to converse with other actors and receive replies in a deterministic fashion. Since each actor knows its own external representation as well as that of its parent, the routees decide where replies should be sent when reacting to a message:

getSender().tell("reply", getContext().parent()); // replies go to router
getSender().tell("reply", getSelf()); // replies go to this actor

It is apparent now why routing needs to be enabled in code rather than being possible to “bolt on” later: whether or not an actor is routed means a change to the actor hierarchy, changing the actor paths of all children of the router. The routees especially do need to know that they are routed to in order to choose the sender reference for any messages they dispatch as shown above.

Routers vs. Supervision

As explained in the previous section, routers create new actor instances as children of the “head” router, who therefore also is their supervisor. The supervisor strategy of this actor can be configured by means of the RouterConfig.supervisorStrategy property, which is supported for all built-in router types. It defaults to “always escalate”, which leads to the application of the router’s parent’s supervision directive to all children of the router uniformly (i.e. not only the one which failed). It should be mentioned that the router overrides the default behavior of terminating all children upon restart, which means that a restart—while re-creating them—does not have an effect on the number of actors in the pool.

Setting the strategy is easily done:

final SupervisorStrategy strategy =
  new OneForOneStrategy(5, Duration.create("1 minute"),
    new Class<?>[] { Exception.class });
final ActorRef router = system.actorOf(new Props(MyActor.class)
    .withRouter(new RoundRobinRouter(5).withSupervisorStrategy(strategy)));

Another potentially useful approach is to give the router the same strategy as its parent, which effectively treats all actors in the pool as if they were direct children of their grand-parent instead.

Note

If the child of a router terminates, the router will not automatically spawn a new child. In the event that all children of a router have terminated the router will terminate itself.

Router usage

In this section we will describe how to use the different router types. First we need to create some actors that will be used in the examples:

public class PrintlnActor extends UntypedActor {
  public void onReceive(Object msg) {
    System.out.println(String.format("Received message '%s' in actor %s",
      msg, getSelf().path().name()));
  }
}

and

public class FibonacciActor extends UntypedActor {
  public void onReceive(Object msg) {
    if (msg instanceof FibonacciNumber) {
      FibonacciNumber fibonacciNumber = (FibonacciNumber) msg;
      getSender().tell(fibonacci(fibonacciNumber.getNbr()), getSelf());
    } else {
      unhandled(msg);
    }
  }

  private int fibonacci(int n) {
    return fib(n, 1, 0);
  }

  private int fib(int n, int b, int a) {
    if (n == 0)
      return a;
    // recursion
    return fib(n - 1, a + b, b);
  }

  public static class FibonacciNumber implements Serializable {
    private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;
    private final int nbr;

    public FibonacciNumber(int nbr) {
      this.nbr = nbr;
    }

    public int getNbr() {
      return nbr;
    }

  }
}

RoundRobinRouter

Routes in a round-robin fashion to its routees. Code example:

ActorRef roundRobinRouter = getContext().actorOf(
    new Props(PrintlnActor.class).withRouter(new RoundRobinRouter(5)),
  "router");
for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++) {
  roundRobinRouter.tell(i, getSelf());
}

When run you should see a similar output to this:

Received message '1' in actor $b
Received message '2' in actor $c
Received message '3' in actor $d
Received message '6' in actor $b
Received message '4' in actor $e
Received message '8' in actor $d
Received message '5' in actor $f
Received message '9' in actor $e
Received message '10' in actor $f
Received message '7' in actor $c

If you look closely to the output you can see that each of the routees received two messages which is exactly what you would expect from a round-robin router to happen. (The name of an actor is automatically created in the format $letter unless you specify it - hence the names printed above.)

This is an example of how to define a round-robin router in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter1 {
    router = round-robin
    nr-of-instances = 5
  }
}

RandomRouter

As the name implies this router type selects one of its routees randomly and forwards the message it receives to this routee. This procedure will happen each time it receives a message. Code example:

ActorRef randomRouter = getContext().actorOf(
  new Props(PrintlnActor.class).withRouter(new RandomRouter(5)),
    "router");
for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++) {
  randomRouter.tell(i, getSelf());
}

When run you should see a similar output to this:

Received message '1' in actor $e
Received message '2' in actor $c
Received message '4' in actor $b
Received message '5' in actor $d
Received message '3' in actor $e
Received message '6' in actor $c
Received message '7' in actor $d
Received message '8' in actor $e
Received message '9' in actor $d
Received message '10' in actor $d

The result from running the random router should be different, or at least random, every time you run it. Try to run it a couple of times to verify its behavior if you don't trust us.

This is an example of how to define a random router in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter3 {
    router = random
    nr-of-instances = 5
  }
}

SmallestMailboxRouter

A Router that tries to send to the non-suspended routee with fewest messages in mailbox. The selection is done in this order:

  • pick any idle routee (not processing message) with empty mailbox
  • pick any routee with empty mailbox
  • pick routee with fewest pending messages in mailbox
  • pick any remote routee, remote actors are consider lowest priority, since their mailbox size is unknown

Code example:

ActorRef smallestMailboxRouter = getContext().actorOf(
    new Props(PrintlnActor.class).withRouter(new SmallestMailboxRouter(5)),
  "router");
for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++) {
  smallestMailboxRouter.tell(i, getSelf());
}

This is an example of how to define a smallest-mailbox router in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter4 {
    router = smallest-mailbox
    nr-of-instances = 5
  }
}

BroadcastRouter

A broadcast router forwards the message it receives to all its routees. Code example:

ActorRef broadcastRouter = getContext().actorOf(
  new Props(PrintlnActor.class).withRouter(new BroadcastRouter(5)), "router");
broadcastRouter.tell("this is a broadcast message", getSelf());

When run you should see a similar output to this:

Received message 'this is a broadcast message' in actor $f
Received message 'this is a broadcast message' in actor $d
Received message 'this is a broadcast message' in actor $e
Received message 'this is a broadcast message' in actor $c
Received message 'this is a broadcast message' in actor $b

As you can see here above each of the routees, five in total, received the broadcast message.

This is an example of how to define a broadcast router in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter5 {
    router = broadcast
    nr-of-instances = 5
  }
}

ScatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter

The ScatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter will send the message on to all its routees as a future. It then waits for first result it gets back. This result will be sent back to original sender. Code example:

ActorRef scatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter = getContext().actorOf(
    new Props(FibonacciActor.class).withRouter(
      new ScatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter(5, Duration.create(2, "seconds"))),
  "router");
Timeout timeout = new Timeout(Duration.create(5, "seconds"));
Future<Object> futureResult = akka.pattern.Patterns.ask(
  scatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter, new FibonacciActor.FibonacciNumber(10),
  timeout);
int result = (Integer) Await.result(futureResult, timeout.duration());

When run you should see this:

The result of calculating Fibonacci for 10 is 55

From the output above you can't really see that all the routees performed the calculation, but they did! The result you see is from the first routee that returned its calculation to the router.

This is an example of how to define a scatter-gather router in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter6 {
    router = scatter-gather
    nr-of-instances = 5
    within = 10 seconds
  }
}

ConsistentHashingRouter

The ConsistentHashingRouter uses consistent hashing to select a connection based on the sent message. This article gives good insight into how consistent hashing is implemented.

There is 3 ways to define what data to use for the consistent hash key.

  • You can define withHashMapper of the router to map incoming messages to their consistent hash key. This makes the the decision transparent for the sender.
  • The messages may implement akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter.ConsistentHashable. The key is part of the message and it's convenient to define it together with the message definition.
  • The messages can be be wrapped in a akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter.ConsistentHashableEnvelope to define what data to use for the consistent hash key. The sender knows the key to use.

These ways to define the consistent hash key can be use together and at the same time for one router. The withHashMapper is tried first.

Code example:

import akka.actor.UntypedActor;
import akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter.ConsistentHashable;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.HashMap;
import java.io.Serializable;
public class Cache extends UntypedActor {
  Map<String, String> cache = new HashMap<String, String>();

  public void onReceive(Object msg) {
    if (msg instanceof Entry) {
      Entry entry = (Entry) msg;
      cache.put(entry.key, entry.value);
    } else if (msg instanceof Get) {
      Get get = (Get) msg;
      Object value = cache.get(get.key);
      getSender().tell(value == null ? NOT_FOUND : value, 
        getContext().self());
    } else if (msg instanceof Evict) {
      Evict evict = (Evict) msg;
      cache.remove(evict.key);
    } else {
      unhandled(msg);
    }
  }
}

public final class Evict implements Serializable {
  public final String key;
  public Evict(String key) {
    this.key = key;
  }
}

public final class Get implements Serializable, ConsistentHashable {
  public final String key;
  public Get(String key) {
    this.key = key;
  }
  public Object consistentHashKey() {
    return key;
  } 
}

public final class Entry implements Serializable {
  public final String key;
  public final String value;
  public Entry(String key, String value) {
    this.key = key;
    this.value = value;
  }
}

public final String NOT_FOUND = "NOT_FOUND";
import akka.actor.Props;
import akka.actor.ActorRef;
import akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter;
import akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter.ConsistentHashMapper;
import akka.routing.ConsistentHashingRouter.ConsistentHashableEnvelope;
final ConsistentHashMapper hashMapper = new ConsistentHashMapper() {
  @Override
  public Object hashKey(Object message) {
    if (message instanceof Evict) {
      return ((Evict) message).key;
    } else {
      return null;
    }
  }
};

ActorRef cache = system.actorOf(new Props(Cache.class).withRouter(
  new ConsistentHashingRouter(10).withHashMapper(hashMapper)), 
  "cache");

cache.tell(new ConsistentHashableEnvelope(
  new Entry("hello", "HELLO"), "hello"), getRef());
cache.tell(new ConsistentHashableEnvelope(
  new Entry("hi", "HI"), "hi"), getRef());

cache.tell(new Get("hello"), getRef());
expectMsgEquals("HELLO");

cache.tell(new Get("hi"), getRef());
expectMsgEquals("HI");

cache.tell(new Evict("hi"), getRef());
cache.tell(new Get("hi"), getRef());
expectMsgEquals(NOT_FOUND);

In the above example you see that the Get message implements ConsistentHashable itself, while the Entry message is wrapped in a ConsistentHashableEnvelope. The Evict message is handled by the withHashMapper.

This is an example of how to define a consistent-hashing router in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter7 {
    router = consistent-hashing
    nr-of-instances = 5
    virtual-nodes-factor = 10
  }
}

Broadcast Messages

There is a special type of message that will be sent to all routees regardless of the router. This message is called Broadcast and is used in the following manner:

router.tell(new Broadcast("Watch out for Davy Jones' locker"));

Only the actual message is forwarded to the routees, i.e. "Watch out for Davy Jones' locker" in the example above. It is up to the routee implementation whether to handle the broadcast message or not.

Dynamically Resizable Routers

All routers can be used with a fixed number of routees or with a resize strategy to adjust the number of routees dynamically.

This is an example of how to create a resizable router that is defined in configuration:

akka.actor.deployment {
  /myrouter2 {
    router = round-robin
    resizer {
      lower-bound = 2
      upper-bound = 15
    }
  }
}
ActorRef router2 = system.actorOf(
  new Props(ExampleActor.class).withRouter(new FromConfig()), "router2");

Several more configuration options are available and described in akka.actor.deployment.default.resizer section of the reference Configuration.

This is an example of how to programmatically create a resizable router:

int lowerBound = 2;
int upperBound = 15;
DefaultResizer resizer = new DefaultResizer(lowerBound, upperBound);
ActorRef router3 = system.actorOf(
  new Props(ExampleActor.class).withRouter(new RoundRobinRouter(resizer)));

It is also worth pointing out that if you define the ``router`` in the configuration file then this value will be used instead of any programmatically sent parameters.

Note

Resizing is triggered by sending messages to the actor pool, but it is not completed synchronously; instead a message is sent to the “head” Router to perform the size change. Thus you cannot rely on resizing to instantaneously create new workers when all others are busy, because the message just sent will be queued to the mailbox of a busy actor. To remedy this, configure the pool to use a balancing dispatcher, see Configuring Dispatchers for more information.

Custom Router

You can also create your own router should you not find any of the ones provided by Akka sufficient for your needs. In order to roll your own router you have to fulfill certain criteria which are explained in this section.

The router created in this example is a simple vote counter. It will route the votes to specific vote counter actors. In this case we only have two parties the Republicans and the Democrats. We would like a router that forwards all democrat related messages to the Democrat actor and all republican related messages to the Republican actor.

We begin with defining the class:

public class VoteCountRouter extends CustomRouterConfig {
  
  @Override public String routerDispatcher() {
    return Dispatchers.DefaultDispatcherId();
  }
  
  @Override public SupervisorStrategy supervisorStrategy() {
    return SupervisorStrategy.defaultStrategy();
  }

  // crRoute ...

}

The next step is to implement the createCustomRoute method in the class just defined:

@Override
public CustomRoute createCustomRoute(RouteeProvider routeeProvider) {
  final ActorRef democratActor =
    routeeProvider.context().actorOf(new Props(DemocratActor.class), "d");
  final ActorRef republicanActor =
    routeeProvider.context().actorOf(new Props(RepublicanActor.class), "r");
  List<ActorRef> routees =
    Arrays.asList(new ActorRef[] { democratActor, republicanActor });

  routeeProvider.registerRoutees(routees);

  return new CustomRoute() {
    @Override
    public Iterable<Destination> destinationsFor(ActorRef sender, Object msg) {
      switch ((Message) msg) {
      case DemocratVote:
      case DemocratCountResult:
        return Arrays.asList(
          new Destination[] { new Destination(sender, democratActor) });
      case RepublicanVote:
      case RepublicanCountResult:
        return Arrays.asList(
          new Destination[] { new Destination(sender, republicanActor) });
      default:
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("Unknown message: " + msg);
      }
    }
  };
}

As you can see above we start off by creating the routees and put them in a collection.

Make sure that you don't miss to implement the line below as it is really important. It registers the routees internally and failing to call this method will cause a ActorInitializationException to be thrown when the router is used. Therefore always make sure to do the following in your custom router:

routeeProvider.registerRoutees(routees);

The routing logic is where your magic sauce is applied. In our example it inspects the message types and forwards to the correct routee based on this:

return new CustomRoute() {
  @Override
  public Iterable<Destination> destinationsFor(ActorRef sender, Object msg) {
    switch ((Message) msg) {
    case DemocratVote:
    case DemocratCountResult:
      return Arrays.asList(
        new Destination[] { new Destination(sender, democratActor) });
    case RepublicanVote:
    case RepublicanCountResult:
      return Arrays.asList(
        new Destination[] { new Destination(sender, republicanActor) });
    default:
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Unknown message: " + msg);
    }
  }
};

As you can see above what's returned in the CustomRoute function, which defines the mapping from incoming sender/message to a List of Destination(sender, routee). The sender is what "parent" the routee should see - changing this could be useful if you for example want another actor than the original sender to intermediate the result of the routee (if there is a result). For more information about how to alter the original sender we refer to the source code of ScatterGatherFirstCompletedRouter

All in all the custom router looks like this:

enum Message {
  DemocratVote, DemocratCountResult, RepublicanVote, RepublicanCountResult
}

public class DemocratActor extends UntypedActor {
  int counter = 0;

  public void onReceive(Object msg) {
    switch ((Message) msg) {
    case DemocratVote:
      counter++;
      break;
    case DemocratCountResult:
      getSender().tell(counter, getSelf());
      break;
    default:
      unhandled(msg);
    }
  }
}

public class RepublicanActor extends UntypedActor {
  int counter = 0;

  public void onReceive(Object msg) {
    switch ((Message) msg) {
    case RepublicanVote:
      counter++;
      break;
    case RepublicanCountResult:
      getSender().tell(counter, getSelf());
      break;
    default:
      unhandled(msg);
    }
  }
}

public class VoteCountRouter extends CustomRouterConfig {
  
  @Override public String routerDispatcher() {
    return Dispatchers.DefaultDispatcherId();
  }
  
  @Override public SupervisorStrategy supervisorStrategy() {
    return SupervisorStrategy.defaultStrategy();
  }

  @Override
  public CustomRoute createCustomRoute(RouteeProvider routeeProvider) {
    final ActorRef democratActor =
      routeeProvider.context().actorOf(new Props(DemocratActor.class), "d");
    final ActorRef republicanActor =
      routeeProvider.context().actorOf(new Props(RepublicanActor.class), "r");
    List<ActorRef> routees =
      Arrays.asList(new ActorRef[] { democratActor, republicanActor });

    routeeProvider.registerRoutees(routees);

    return new CustomRoute() {
      @Override
      public Iterable<Destination> destinationsFor(ActorRef sender, Object msg) {
        switch ((Message) msg) {
        case DemocratVote:
        case DemocratCountResult:
          return Arrays.asList(
            new Destination[] { new Destination(sender, democratActor) });
        case RepublicanVote:
        case RepublicanCountResult:
          return Arrays.asList(
            new Destination[] { new Destination(sender, republicanActor) });
        default:
          throw new IllegalArgumentException("Unknown message: " + msg);
        }
      }
    };
  }

}

If you are interested in how to use the VoteCountRouter it looks like this:

@Test
public void countVotesAsIntendedNotAsInFlorida() throws Exception {
  ActorRef routedActor = system.actorOf(
    new Props().withRouter(new VoteCountRouter()));
  routedActor.tell(DemocratVote, null);
  routedActor.tell(DemocratVote, null);
  routedActor.tell(RepublicanVote, null);
  routedActor.tell(DemocratVote, null);
  routedActor.tell(RepublicanVote, null);
  Timeout timeout = new Timeout(Duration.create(1, "seconds"));
  Future<Object> democratsResult =
    ask(routedActor, DemocratCountResult, timeout);
  Future<Object> republicansResult =
    ask(routedActor, RepublicanCountResult, timeout);

  assertEquals(3, Await.result(democratsResult, timeout.duration()));
  assertEquals(2, Await.result(republicansResult, timeout.duration()));
}

Caution

When creating a cutom router the resulting RoutedActorRef optimizes the sending of the message so that it does NOT go through the router’s mailbox unless the route returns an empty recipient set.

This means that the route function defined in the RouterConfig or the function returned from CreateCustomRoute in CustomRouterConfig is evaluated concurrently without protection by the RoutedActorRef: either provide a reentrant (i.e. pure) implementation or do the locking yourself!

Configured Custom Router

It is possible to define configuration properties for custom routers. In the router property of the deployment configuration you define the fully qualified class name of the router class. The router class must extend akka.routing.CustomRouterConfig and have constructor with one com.typesafe.config.Config parameter. The deployment section of the configuration is passed to the constructor.

Custom Resizer

A router with dynamically resizable number of routees is implemented by providing a akka.routing.Resizer in resizer method of the RouterConfig. See akka.routing.DefaultResizer for inspiration of how to write your own resize strategy.

Configuring Dispatchers

The dispatcher for created children of the router will be taken from Props as described in Dispatchers (Java). For a dynamic pool it makes sense to configure the BalancingDispatcher if the precise routing is not so important (i.e. no consistent hashing or round-robin is required); this enables newly created routees to pick up work immediately by stealing it from their siblings.

Note

If you provide a collection of actors to route to, then they will still use the same dispatcher that was configured for them in their Props, it is not possible to change an actors dispatcher after it has been created.

The “head” router cannot always run on the same dispatcher, because it does not process the same type of messages, hence this special actor does not use the dispatcher configured in Props, but takes the routerDispatcher from the RouterConfig instead, which defaults to the actor system’s default dispatcher. All standard routers allow setting this property in their constructor or factory method, custom routers have to implement the method in a suitable way.

final ActorRef router = system.actorOf(new Props(MyActor.class)
  // “head” router will run on "head" dispatcher
  .withRouter(new RoundRobinRouter(5).withDispatcher("head"))
  // MyActor “workers” will run on "workers" dispatcher
  .withDispatcher("workers"));

Note

It is not allowed to configure the routerDispatcher to be a BalancingDispatcher since the messages meant for the special router actor cannot be processed by any other actor.

At first glance there seems to be an overlap between the BalancingDispatcher and Routers, but they complement each other. The balancing dispatcher is in charge of running the actors while the routers are in charge of deciding which message goes where. A router can also have children that span multiple actor systems, even remote ones, but a dispatcher lives inside a single actor system.

When using a RoundRobinRouter with a BalancingDispatcher there are some configuration settings to take into account.

  • There can only be nr-of-instances messages being processed at the same time no matter how many threads are configured for the BalancingDispatcher.
  • Having throughput set to a low number makes no sense since you will only be handing off to another actor that processes the same MailBox as yourself, which can be costly. Either the message just got into the mailbox and you can receive it as well as anybody else, or everybody else is busy and you are the only one available to receive the message.
  • Resizing the number of routees only introduce inertia, since resizing is performed at specified intervals, but work stealing is instantaneous.

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