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Inheritance and Polymorphism
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  1. Inheritance and Polymorphism • Professor Evan Korth • New York University Evan Korth New York University

  2. Road map • Object class • Polymorphism • Superclass / subclass references and casting • Reading • Liang 5: 8.5, 8.6 • Liang 6: 9.5 – 9.7, 9.13.1 • Liang 7: 10.6 – 10.8 Evan Korth New York University

  3. review • Define superclass. • Define inheritance. • Why do you need the keyword super? • What are the two uses of super? • If you want to call a superclass constructor (with non zero parameters) in your subclass' constructor where must you call it? • What is the difference between overloading and overriding? Evan Korth New York University

  4. Review (cont) • Given the following class: public class Bicycle extends Vehicle When you call one of Bicycle's constructors, which constructors are called and in which order do they do their work? • When a client program invokes an object's methods, how does it use the keyword super? • When a client program invokes an object's methods, what is the difference in syntax between invoking a method declared in the object vs. one that is directly inherited? How about indirectly inherited? Evan Korth New York University

  5. 9.3 protected members and accessing a superclass member • protected access • Intermediate level of protection between public and private • protected members accessible to • superclass members • subclass members • Class members in the same package • Subclass access superclass member • Keyword super and a dot (.)

  6. 9.4 Relationship between Superclasses and Subclasses (Cont.) • Using protected instance variables • Advantages • subclasses can modify values directly • Slight increase in performance • Avoid set/get function call overhead • Disadvantages • No validity checking • subclass can assign illegal value • Implementation dependent • subclass methods more likely dependent on superclass implementation • superclass implementation changes may result in subclass modifications • Fragile (brittle) software

  7. Visibility modifiers for data and methods Weakest access privileges private – only seen in class (UML -) default (no visibility modifier) – private access plus classes in the package (UML none) protected – default access plus subclasses and superclasses (UML #) Strongest access privileges public – protected access plus everything else (UML +) Evan Korth New York University

  8. Overload vs override (review) • Overloading a method refers to having two methods which share the same name but have different signatures. • Overriding a method refers to having a new implementation of a method with the same signature in a subclass. Evan Korth New York University

  9. Object class • In Java, all classes are derived from other classes except the Object class which is the top of Java’s class hierarchy. • Therefore, if a new class does not explicitly extend another class, it implicitly extends the Object class. • Several of the methods provided in the Object class are provided with the intention that they will be overridden. Evan Korth New York University

  10. Object class: equals method public boolean equals (Object object) • Object’s equals() method returns true if the Objects are the same Object (ie the two variables refer to the same position in memory) • Since you can already check for that condition with the == operator, you are meant to override the equals() method with one that will check to see if the two objects (explicit and implicit) have the same fields (or some other definition of equality). Evan Korth New York University

  11. Object class: toString method public String toString() • Object’s toString() method returns the name of the class of the object plus an @ sign and a number representing the object. • You should override toString() to return a String that more closely represents the object. • Whenever you print an object, the result of method toString() is what will be printed. Evan Korth New York University

  12. Introduction to Polymorphism • Polymorphism • “Program in the general” • Treat objects in same class hierarchy as if all are superclass objects • Abstract class (next session) • Common functionality • Cannot instantiate • Makes programs extensible • New classes added easily, can still be processed

  13. Relationships Among Objects in an Inheritance Hierarchy • In our examples • Use superclass GeometricObject (will change to an abstract class soon) • Defines common interface (functionality) • Rectangle, Circle and Cylinder inherit from GeometricObject • Class Employee is a natural example • Previously • Circle inherited from GeometricObject • Manipulated Rectangle and Circle objects using references to invoke methods • Now • Using superclass references with subclass-type variables • Subclass method calls via superclass-type variables • Key concept • subclass object can be treated as superclass object • “is-a” relationship • superclass object cannot be treated as subclass object • No “is-a” relationship

  14. Superclass / Subclass Relations • Try to reference a superclass object with a subclass variable: • For example: • Circle c = new GeometricObject(); • Is a GeometricObject a Circle?

  15. Superclass / Subclass Relations • Try to reference a superclass object with a subclass variable: • For example: • Circle c = new GeometricObject(); • Is a GeometricObject a Circle? • No, a superclass object is not a necessarily subclass object: • Our example: • A GeometricObject is a GeometricObject • A GeometricObject is not a Circle (i.e. a Circle is more specialized GeometricObject) • Does not have an “is-a” relationship.

  16. Superclass / Subclass Relations • Try to reference a subclass object with a superclass variable: • For example: • GeometricObject g = new Circle(); • Is a Circle a GeometricObject?

  17. Superclass / Subclass Relations • Try to reference a subclass object with a superclass variable: • For example: • GeometricObject g = new Circle(); • Is a Circle a GeometricObject? • Yes, a subclass object is a superclass object: • Our example: • A Circle is a GeometricObject (i.e. a Circle is more specialized GeometricObject) • A Circle is a Circle • Does have an “is-a” relationship.

  18. Limitation of using superclass reference • You cannot call a subclass’ method using a superclass reference if the method has not been inherited from the superclass. • For example: Object o = new Circle(6); o.getArea() Causes a compile error Evan Korth New York University

  19. 10.3 Polymorphism Examples • Examples • Suppose Rectangle derives from Quadrilateral • Rectangle more specific than Quadrilateral • Any operation on Quadrilateral can be done on Rectangle (i.e., perimeter, area) • Suppose designing video game • Superclass SpaceObject • Subclasses Martian, SpaceShip, LaserBeam • Contains method draw • To refresh screen • Send draw message to each object • Same message has “many forms” of results

  20. 10.3 Polymorphism Examples • Video game example, continued • Easy to add class Mercurian • Extends SpaceObject • Provides its own implementation of draw • Programmer does not need to change code • Calls draw regardless of object’s type • Mercurian objects “plug right in”