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Basics of Java programming


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Basics of Java programming

Objects are manipulated through object references (and aliases). new operator returns a reference to a new instance of the class instantiated.

Objects have their copy of instance members, while static members belong only to the class. Local (or Automatic) variables are created inside methods/ blocks.

Static members may be accessed by the class name as well as the object references, but Instance variables can only be accessed by the object reference.

Two fundamental mechanisms of building new classes from existing ones :

Inheritance (IS-A relationship)

Aggregation (HAS-A relationship)

Java supports aggregation where only the references to objects and values of primitive data types are stored within the aggregation class.

Java 2 SDK enforces that at the most only one class in the source file has public accessibility. Each class definition in a source file is compiled into a separate class file, containing Java byte code.There can be any number of classes named 'main' created in a class, provided they take other arguments, are not public and static, or return a value.

Language fundamentals

Identifier is composed of a sequence of characters, where each character could be either a letter, currency symbol, digit or connecting punctuation. However first character cant be a digit.
Examples of illegal identifiers : 48chevy, all@hands, grand-sum

Keywords :
















































Reserved Literals :




Reserved Keywords not currently in use :



synchronized, abstract, strictfp and native can only be applied to methods. transient and volatile can only be applied to variables. static and final can be applied to both.

The class containing at least one abstract method has to be declared as abstract. However an abstract class need not have any abstract methods in it.

Literal denotes a constant values :

Integer Literals int, long, byte, short,octal, hexadecimal

Floating point Literals suffix f or F, d or D; exponent notation 1.2E-2

Boolean Literals true or false

Character Literals single quotes, hexadecimal with prefix u, ddd where ddd is octal

String Literals double quotes

Comment are of three types :

single line // to end of line

multiple line /* */

javadoc comment /** */

Comment start sequences are ignored when occurring inside comments, hence making nesting of comments impossible.

Primitive Data Types


8 bits





16 bits





32 bits





64 bits





16 bits





32 bits



64 bits



true or false only


Default values for fields are false, 'u0000', 0L, 0, 0.0F, 0.0D and null. All static, instance variables as well as object references are automatically initialized. Local variables and object references need to be explicitly initialized before use.

If a reference is set to null, then the program will compile but throw a NullPointerException at runtime.

Operators and assignments

All binary operators except for relational and assignment operators associate from left to right. Relational operators are non-associative.
All unary operators (except for unary postfix increment and decrement), all assignment operators, and the ternary conditional operator operate from right to left.

Precedence rules are used to determine which operator to apply first if there are two operators with different precedence, following each other in the expression. Associativity rules are used to determine which operator to apply first if there are two operators with the same precedence, following each other in the expression.


[] . (parameters) (expr)++ (expr)--

Unary prefix

++(expr) --(expr) +(expr) -(expr)

Unary prefix creation and cast

new (type)


* / %


+ -


<< >> >>>


< <= > >= instanceof


== !=

Bitwise/logical AND


Bitwise/logical XOR


Bitwise/logical OR


Conditional AND


Conditional OR





= += -= *= /= %= <<= >>= >>>= &= ^= |=

Java guarantees that all operands of an operator are fully evaluated before the operator is applied. The only exceptions are &&, || and ?:. Also the operands of the operators are evaluated from left to right. For example, in the case of binary operators, if the evaluation of the left hand operator causes an exception, then the right hand expression is not evaluated.

Casting between primitives and references is not permitted. Boolean values cannot be cast to other data values and vice versa. null can be cast to any reference type.

All conversions between byte, short to char are considered narrowing, because conversion to the unsigned char can lead to loss in information.

Numeric Promotions

Unary Numeric Promotion : the operator is promoted to int if lesser than int.
Examples : operands of +, -
operand of ~
during array creation, value in [ ]
indexing array elements, value in [ ]
operands of <<, >>, >>>

Binary Numeric Promotion : both operands are converted to the broadest of the two and to int at the least.
Examples : operands of *, /, %, +, -
operands of <, <=, >, >=
operands of ==, !=
operands of &, ^, |

Type Conversion can occur in the following contexts :

Assignments involving primitive data types and reference types.

Method invocation involving parameters of primitive data types.

Arithmetic expression evaluation involving numeric types.

String concatenation involving objects of String and other data types

The assignment statement is an expression statement, which returns the value of the expression on the right hand side.

Integer values when widened to floating point values may lead to loss of precision.

Implicit Narrowing Primitive Conversions take place when all of the following are true:

source is a constant expression of type byte, short, char or int.

destination is byte, short or char type.

Value of source is determined to be in the range of the destination.

Integer division by 0 and remainder by 0 gives Arithmetic Exception.

Floating point errors throw NaN and Infinity, -Infinity.

(-0.0==0.0) is true
(0.0/0.0) is NaN
any operation involving NaN gives NaN
any comparison involving NaN (except !=) gives NaN
square root of negatives gives NaN
to check if value is NaN, use isNaN(), defined in java.lang.Float and java.lang.Double.

In the case of Arithmetic Compound Assignment Operators (*=, /=, %=, +=, -=), since they have the lowest precedence of all operators in Java, the full expression on the right will always be evaluated before the assignment. Also the left hand side variable (also in the expansion on the right side) is evaluated only once.

Prefixed Increment/Decrement Operator first performs operation, then uses new value as result of the expression. Postfixed Increment/Decrement Operators use the current value as the result of the expression first and then perform the operation.

Increment and Decrement operators cannot be associated, like in (+ ++a))since the inner increment does not result in a variable for the other increment to operate on. Similarly, Relational and Equality operators are not associative since first operation would result in a boolean which cannot be the operand of the second.

In the case of Object References, the Equality and the Inequality operators check whether the two references denote the same object or not. The state of the objects is not compared. To check for Object Value Equality, equals() method of class Object may be used, provided the class overrides the method. Otherwise Object Reference Equality and Object Value Equality are the same.

Boolean Logical Operators can be applied to boolean operands to return a boolean value, or to integral operands to perform bitwise operations. But Conditional Operators can only be applied to boolean operands.

Adding 1 to the 1's complement of a positive binary integer gives its negative. And vice-versa. Hence if given a binary number and its signed bit is one, to find the decimal equivalent, we need to take the 2's complement, determine the decimal value and then affix a negative sign to it.

For the shift operator, a bit mask value of 0x1F (31, for int) or 0x3F (63, for long) is used by AND-ing with the shift distance value to ensure that the shift distance always stays in the range. (result of masking is <shiftvalue>%32 or 64).

The conditional operator can be nested. It is associative from right to left.

Formal parameters are those defined in the method definition. Actual parameters are those passed during the method call (which may vary from call to call).

The number of Actual parameters must equal the number of Formal parameters.

Individual Formal and Actual parameter pairs must be type-compatible.

For parameter passing there are no implicit narrowing conversions.

If an object reference is declared as final then it means that the reference value cannot be changed, however state of the object can be changed as usual.

Declarations and Access Control

Array Declarations
char[] a;
char a[];

Array Constructions
a = new char[5];

Combined Declaration and Construction
<element type1>[]<array name>=new <element type2>[<array size>];

Combined Declaration, Construction and explicit Initialization
<element type>[]<array name>=;
char[] a = ;

Anonymous Array Construction
new char[]

In the case of multidimensional arrays, you may specify the size only for the first dimension:
String[][] s = new String[3][];

Accessing an incorrect index in the array results in an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException.

A class has two components :

Static Context : contains static methods, static field initializers and static initializer blocks.

Non-Static Context : has instance methods, constructors, non-static field initializers and instance initializer blocks.

The signature of a method contains only the method name and the formal parameter list.

All instance methods are passed an implicit reference to the current object, which can be referenced in the body of the instance by the keyword this, which can be used in any non-static context.

When a subclass object is created, all the superclass constructors are invoked in order starting from the top of the hierarchy.

Constructors cannot return a value and hence cannot specify a return type, not even void.

The only action taken by the default constructor is to call the superclass constructor.

If any explicit constructors are defined, then implicit default constructor will not be provided. It must be explicitly implemented.

Static code cannot access non-static members. Also this and super are unavailable. However, the Non-Static code can refer to the static context members.

An interface is an implicitly public, abstract class containing implicitly static, final variables and abstract methods (if any). Interfaces with empty bodies are used as markers to tag classes as having a certain property. Such are also called ability interfaces.

Control flow, exception handling and assertions

The type of expression of a switch statement must be non-long integral. All labels in a switch construct including the default label are optional. But there cannot be more than one default label. The case label values must be in range of type of switch expression.

Switch blocks may be nested and the case labels can be redefined inside them.

In the for loop header, two semicolons are mandatory. The 'crab' (;;) is commonly used to construct infinite loops. If in the for loop, pre-increment instead of post-increment is used, it makes no difference to the behavior of the loop.

The scope of a label is the entire statement prefixed by the label. So it cant be redeclared as a label inside the statement. A statement may have multiple labels. A declaration statement cannot have a label.

break() terminates the loop or block it is in, whereas continue() skips that particular iteration of the loop and continues with the next one.

All exceptions are derived from java.lang.Throwable class and have the methods getMessage() and printstacktrace(). RuntimeException, Error and their derivatives are called unchecked exceptions. All others are checked In particular Asserts throw unchecked AssertionError.

In a try-catch-finally construct, block notation is mandatory. There can be zero or more catch blocks but a maximum of one finally block. The catch and finally blocks must always appear in conjunction with the try and in that order.

After catching an exception, the control continues from the class which handled the exception. If the finally block throws an exception, then this is propagated regardless of how the try block or any catch block were executed. Also, the new exception overrules any previously unhandled exception. A value returned by a finally block will supersede other return statements.

Any exception propagated to a finally block is nullified by any return statement in the finally block.

When a subclass is created it can override a superclass methods, but the new throws clause can only throw a subset of the previous exceptions (including their subclasses)

To compile assertions use $ javac -source 1.4 and during running, enable it by either -enableassertions, or -ea flags. Disable by -disableassertions or -da. These options affect all non-system classes only. For enabling or disabling system class assertions, use -enablesystemassertions, -esa andj -disablesystemassertion, -dsa.

Object-oriented programming

Private, overridden and hidden members of the superclass are not inherited.

This ability of a superclass reference to denote objects of its own class and its subclasses at runtime is called polymorphism and is carried out by dynamic method lookup. A call to a private instance method is not polymorphic since such a call can only occur within the class and gets bound to the private method implementation at compile time.

Overriding of Instance Methods involve defining a method in the subclass with the same method signature (which does not encompass final modifier for the parameters, but does include the return type of the method). Note that the new method cannot narrow the accessibility but can widen it, and also it can only specify all, none or a subset of the former's exceptions.

An instance method in the subclass cannot override a static method, a final method and a private method in the superclass. In the first case it will result in hiding of the static method, in the second a compile time error, and in the third it will result in the creation of a completely separate method with identical signature.

When an instance method is invoked on an object using a reference, it is the class of the current object denoted by the reference, not the type of reference, that determines which method is implemented.
When a field of an object is accessed using a reference, it is the type of the reference, not the class of the current object denoted by the reference, that determines which field will actually be accessed. (Treatment is just the same for static methods and variables too)
class Vehicle
class Car extends Vehicle
We are overridding the field and the method. This is how they behave :
Vehicle i = new Vehicle;
System.out.println(i.mytype); // prints- Vehicle!
i.sayType(); // prints- I am a vehicle

Car j = new Car;
System.out.println(j.mytype); // prints- Car!
j.sayType(); // prints- I am a car

Vehicle k = new Car;
System.out.println(k.mytype); // prints- Vehicle!
k.sayType(); // prints- I am a car

Constructors cannot be inherited or overridden. They can be overloaded but only in the same class. Java requires that a this() or super() call in the constructor (if any) be the first statement in the constructor.

If a superclass only defines non-default constructors, then its subclasses cannot rely on implicit super() call to be inserted. This will result in compile time error.

A class choosing to partially implement the methods of an interface must be declared as abstract.

Regardless of how many interfaces are implemented, only a single implementation is provided for a member even if it has multiple declarations in the various interfaces.

Rules for assigning reference values (same rules apply for passing references)
A = B , where A = Destination reference, B = Source reference

B is a class type
A is superclass of B
A is interface type that B implements

B is interface type
A is Object
A is superinterface of B

B is an array type
A is Object
A is array type, where element type of B is assignable to element type of A

Casting of References checks that the reference of the source is assignable to the reference of the destination. The compile time check determines if both the references can denote objects of a reference type that is a common subtype of both. At runtime it is the type of the actual object denoted by the source reference that determines the outcome of the operation. Hence a ClassCastException may result.

References of an interface type can denote objects of classes that implement this interface.

Nested classes and Interfaces




Accessib-ility Modifiers

Enclosing Instance

Direct Access to Enclosing Context

Declarations in Entity Body

Top-Level Class (or Interface)


Public or default



All that are valid in a class (or interface) body

Static Member Class (or Interface)

As static member of enclosing class or interface



Static members in enclosing context

All that are valid in a class (or interface) body

Non-static Member Class

As non-static member of enclosing class or interface



All members in enclosing context

Only non-static declarations + final static fields

Local Class

In block with non-static context



All members in enclosing context + final local variables

Only non-static declarations + final static fields

In block with static context



Static members in enclosing context + final local variables

Only non-static declarations + final static fields

Anonymous Class

As expression in non-static context



All members in enclosing context + final local variables

Only non-static declarations + final static fields

As expression in static context



Static members in enclosing context + final local variables

Only non-static declarations + final static fields

class TLC //Static Member Class
interface SMI //Static Member Interface
class NSMC //Non-static Member Class
void nsm() {
class NSLC //Non-static Local Class
static void sm() {
class SLC //Static Local Class
SMC nsf = new SMC () ; //Anonymous non-static
static SMI sf = new SMI() ; //Anonymous Static

The expression
<enclosing class name>.this
evaluates to a reference that denotes the enclosing object (ie. of class <enclosing class name>) of current instance of non-static member class.

In the Anonymous class, SMC is not the name of the Anonymous class but the name of the class that you are extending or the interface you are implementing.

Object lifetime

The lifetime of an object is time between when it is created and garbage collected.

Accessibility time of an object is time between when it is created and becomes unreachable.

Resurrection after garbage collection can be achieved in the finalize block by assigning its this reference to a static field. But since a finalizer is called only once, an object can be resurrected just once.

Eligibility for garbage collection

if reference variable of that object is set to null and no other reference is referring to it

if reference variable of that object is made to refer to some other object and there is no other reference referring to it

locally created objects after the method returns, provided they are not exported out of the method (ie. returned or thrown as exception)

Since there is no guarantee that the garbage collector will ever run there is also no guarantee that the finalizer will ever be called. Also no guarantee of the order in which the objects will be collected.

System.gc() can be used to request garbage collection

System.runFinalization() method can be called to suggest that any pending finalizers be run for the objects eligible for garbage collection.

A Java application can use a Runtime object to interact with the JVM. Some methods include
void gc()
void runFinalization()
long freeMemory()
long totalMemory()

Static Initializer Blocks are primarily used to initialize static fields and consists of the keyword static followed by a local block. When a class is initialized, the initializer expression in static field declarations and static initializer blocks are executed in the order they are specified in the class.

Instance initializer blocks can be used to initialize fields during object creation. It merely consists of a local block. The code in the block is executed every time an instance of the class is created.


Defined by either extending java.lang.Thread or by implementing java.lang.Runnable interface. The run() method needs to be overridden. This method must be public and void and should take no arguments.

class MyThread extends Thread
You never call run() directly. Instead you call the start() method of the Thread class.
MyThread my = new MyThread();

class MyRunnable implements Runnable
Here you construct a thread by passing the instance of the Runnable class as an argument.
MyRunnable mc = new MyRunnable();
Thread t = new Thread(mc);

Thread Constructors available


Thread(String name)

Thread(Runnable runnable)

Thread(Runnable runnable, String name)

Thread(ThreadGroup g, Runnable runnable)

Thread(ThreadGroup g, Runnable runnable, String name)

Thread(ThreadGroup g, String name)

wait(), notify and notifyAll() have to be called from a synchronized context.

A dead thread can never enter any other state, even if the start() method is called on it.

yield() method causes the current thread to move from the running to the runnable state to give other threads a chance to run.

When a thread calls join() on another thread, the currently running thread will wait until the thread it joins with has completed.

The argument to a synchronized keyword (in the case of blocks) is the reference of the object to be synchronized on. In the case of methods, the synchronized keyword merely precedes the method.

Invoking start() twice on the same thread will throw an IllegalThreadStateException at runtime.

Fundamental Classes

The Math class is final and all methods defined in the Math class are static. This means you cannot inherit from the Math class and override the methods. Also, the Math class has a private constructor so you cannot instantiate it.

ceil(), floor() and random() return double values. round() returns a long for double inputs and int for float inputs. Trigonometric methods take radians as arguments, so we use Math.toRadians().

All wrapper classes except Character have two constructors - one that takes the primitive value and another that takes the String representation of the value. Character takes char type as argument.

Wrapper objects are immutable.

All wrapper classes (except Character ) define a static method valueOf() which returns the wrapper object corresponding to the primitive value represented by the String argument. Then byteValue(), doubleValue(), floatValue(), intValue(), longValue(), shortValue()are used to get the primitive values from the wrapper classes.

Parser methods may be used to short-circuit the process. They throw NumberFormatException.

Collections and Maps














Set cannot contain duplicate elements. Not ordered (implementation : HashSet)
SortedSet holds elements in sorted ascending order. (implementation : TreeSet)
HashSet is not ordered or sorted. (constant time performance for basic add and remove).
TreeSet arranges the elements in ascending element order, sorted according to the natural order of the elements.
LinkedHashSet is an ordered HashSet, which gives elements in the order of insertion or last access.

List represents ordered collections which allow positional access and search and can contain duplicate elements. (implementation : LinkedList, ArrayList, Vector, Stack)
ArrayList enables fast iteration ad constant speed positional access.
Vector is similar to ArrayList only slower since it is synchronized.
LinkedList allows fast insertion and deletion at the beginning or end. Commonly used for implementing stacks and queues.
Stack is subset of Vector, it is simple LIFO.

Map matches unique keys to values. Each key maps to at most one value. It does not implement the Collection interface (implementation : HashMap, HashTable, WeakHashMap)
SortedMap orders the mapping in the sorted order of keys.
HashMap is not sorted or ordered. It allows one null key and many null values.
HashTable is similar to HashMap but does not allow null keys and values. Also, it is slower because it is synchronized.
LinkedHashMap iterated by insertion or last accessed order. Allows one null key and many null values.
TreeMap is a map in ascending key order, sorted according to the natural order for the key's class.

Two objects that are not equal can have the same hash code. The hash code of a null value is defined as zero.

When you override equals() you should override hashCode() but the reverse is not required.

A BitSet is not part of the Collections Framework. It contains elements which are bits (ie. boolean primitive). Like Vector its not of fixed size and can grow as needed.

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