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CSC 243 – Java Programming, Spring 2014 March, 2014 Week 7ish, Generics Generic Interfaces / Classes • We have been using generic interfaces and classes from the library. • java.util.Set<E>, java.util.HashSet<E> • java.util.Map<K,V>, java.util.HashMap<K,V> • They allow containers to contain different types (classes) of objects. • Generic parameters such as E (element type), K (key type) and V (value type) above are types bound by client code at compile time. Using Generic Classes • Client code supplies a binding for each generic parameter that must be an interface or class name. • It cannot be a primitive type. • A generic parameter may constrain the type of class or interface that client code can bind using a wildcard. • ?, ? extends T, ? super T – details follow. Building Generics • A class or interface specifies its generic type. • • • • • HashSet<E>, HashMap<K, V>, etc. ? extends T is a bounded wildcard, T or a subclass ? super T is a lower-bounded wildcard, T or a superclass ? is an unbounded wildcard, same as ? Extends Object The bound constrains client code type binding. • The writer of a generic class must ensure type consistency within the class. • The user can safely assume type compatibility if the compiler does not flag an error. Erasure and Restrictions • Unlike C++ template classes, the compiler generates only 1 copy of the class code for a generic class, erasing the generic type T information at run time. • Every generic type T is treated as a java.lang.Object at run time. • Writers of generic classes may need to cast to generic type T, E, K, V etc. in places. • Writers of generic classes must ensure that those casts are valid. The compiler cannot ensure this. Restrictions • 1. No constructor – no “new T()” for generic T. • 2. No “new T” – you must cast an “Object ” to a “T ” within the generic class code. • This cast often fails at run time with a wildcard T. Make sure to test if you use arrays of wildcard generic types. • 3. No generic T in a static field, static method or static initialization block of code. • 4. Exception classes cannot be generic. Non-template class topics • java.lang.Cloneable • Marker interface that says (to humans and tools), “Objects of this interface provide a public clone() method. • See java.lang.Object.clone() • clone() returns a new copy of its object. • Its implementation often uses a private constructor to build the new object. • An immutable object can return a reference to itself. – It is like a C++ copy constructor. – Do not clone 2D arrays. An array clone() clones only the first dimension. Non-template class topics • java.util.Comparable<T> – Specifies method int compareTo(T o). – Returns -1, 0 or 1 if object is logically <, == or > o. – May require redefining equals() and hashCode() in class java.lang.Object. • Just exclusive-OR (^) the hashCodes of the fields. • java.util.Serializable – Useful for storing objects in binary data files or sending them across a network. – All fields in a Serializable object should be Serializable, primitive types or transient.