User Defined Types and Equality

In Java there is an operator "==" then symbolizes a check for equality between two objects.
However, this operator may be considered miss-leading because it actually checks to see
if the memory pointed to by one variable is the same memory pointed to by another variable.
So, it doesn't actually check to see if the values stored by one Object are the same as
values stored by another Object. If you want to compare whether the values of two Objects
are the same then you must use the function "equals".

Here is an example:
class EqualityOperator { public static void main(String args[]) { String strOne=new String("Test"); String strTwo=new String("Test"); if(strOne==strTwo) { System.out.println("strOne equals strTwo"); } else { System.out.println("strOne doesn't equal strTwo"); } if(strOne.equals(strTwo)) { System.out.println("strOne equals strTwo"); } else { System.out.println("strOne doesn't equal strTwo"); } strTwo=strOne; if(strOne==strTwo) { System.out.println("strOne equals strTwo"); } else { System.out.println("strOne doesn't equal strTwo"); } } }
The output of the program is: strOne doesn't equal strTwo strOne equals strTwo strOne equals strTwo The first evaluation shows that strOne and strTwo point to two different memory locations. The second evaluation shows that the values stored by strOne and strTwo are equal. The third evaluation shows that if strTwo is assigned the same memory location as strOne then it evaluates to equal. When dealing with Strings you will probably use the "equals" function 99% of the time instead of the "==" operator. Some commonly used Object containers make use of the "equals" and "hashCode" functions of user defined types among these containers are java.util.Vector and java.util.Hashtable . Vector is an indexed list of Objects where elements are accessed according to an index. Hashtable is a mapping of keys and values. When you add an Object to Hashtable you provide a key and a value at the same time. The java.util.Vector function called "contains" checks to see if a value is contained in the Vector. The "contains" function uses the "equals" function, so if you are using your user defined type with Vectors then you should implement the "equals" function for comparing the values of your Objects. Furthermore, if you intend on using your user defined types with java.util.Hashtable types then you must also implement the "hashCode" function. Fortunately, when implementing user defined types it is easy to declare a field inside the Object to be an identifier for the Object and make that Object be of type String which already has both "equals" and "hashCode" overrided. So, your user defined type can make a call to String's implementation. Here is an example:
import java.util.Vector; import java.util.Hashtable; class VectorContainsString { String strStr=""; public static void main(String args[]) { VectorContainsString vcs=new VectorContainsString("Testing"); Vector vecMy=new Vector(); vecMy.addElement(vcs); System.out.println("before vecMy contains call"); if(vecMy.contains(vcs)) { System.out.println("Does contain."); } else { System.out.println("Doesn't contain."); } System.out.println("after vecMy contains call\n"); Hashtable hshMy=new Hashtable(); hshMy.put(vcs, "Testing too"); System.out.println("before hshMy containsKey call"); if(hshMy.containsKey(vcs)) { System.out.println("Does contain."); } else { System.out.println("Doesn't contain."); } System.out.println("after hshMy contains call"); } VectorContainsString(String strStr) { this.strStr=strStr; } public boolean equals(Object objObj) { System.out.println("equals"); if(objObj instanceof VectorContainsString) { VectorContainsString vcs=(VectorContainsString)objObj; if(vcs.strStr.equals(strStr)) return true; else return false; } return false; } public int hashCode() { System.out.println("hashCode"); return strStr.hashCode(); } }
In the user defined type VectorContainsString a String identifier is declared called "strStr". That String is used with "public boolean equals" and "public int hashCode" to provide proper overriding equality checks. When you run the console application, notice when "equals" is called and when "hashCode" is called. Another type of container is java.util.TreeMap which is very similar to java.util.Hashtable except that the keys implement an interface called Comparable which has a single function which is "public int compareTo(Object)". One place where a TreeMap implementation can be useful is with smart keys and a two dimensional grid(x and y) coordinates. Here is an example with two source files they are and Try using the keystrokes of holding down the ctrl key and the 'c' key to exit the console application when you are finished.
import java.util.TreeMap; import; import; class MultiplicationTable { static TreeMap mapMultiplication=new TreeMap(); static { for(int i=0;i<10;i++) { for(int ia=0;ia<10;ia++) { mapMultiplication.put(new TwoDimensionalKey(i, ia), new Integer(i*ia)); } } } public static void main(String args[]) { try { BufferedReader br=new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(; do { System.out.println("Multiplication Table from 0-9"); System.out.println("Enter the first number"); String strFirst=br.readLine(); int intFirst=Integer.parseInt(strFirst); if(intFirst<0) { System.out.println("Number is too low.\n"); continue; } else if(intFirst>9) { System.out.println("Number is too high.\n"); continue; } System.out.println("Enter the second number"); String strSecond=br.readLine(); int intSecond=Integer.parseInt(strSecond); if(intSecond<0) { System.out.println("Number is too low.\n"); continue; } else if(intSecond>9) { System.out.println("Number is too high.\n"); continue; } String strOut=String.valueOf(mapMultiplication.get(new TwoDimensionalKey(intFirst, intSecond))); System.out.println("\nThe product is "+strOut+"\n"); } while(true); } catch(Exception ex) { ex.printStackTrace(); } } }
class TwoDimensionalKey implements Comparable { int intX=-1; int intY=-1; TwoDimensionalKey(int intX, int intY) { this.intX=intX; this.intY=intY; } public int compareTo(Object obj) { TwoDimensionalKey objTDK=(TwoDimensionalKey)obj; if(intX<objTDK.intX) { return -1; } else if(intX>objTDK.intX) { return 1; } else { if(intY<objTDK.intY) { return -1; } else if(intY>objTDK.intY) { return 1; } } return 0; } }
The static initializer in MultiplicationTable initializes a TreeMap with all of the products of a multiplication table with the numbers from 0-9 . After the user inputs a first and second number, a TwoDimensionalKey is constructed and used by the "get" function to lookup the value for the mapping with the corresponding product. The "compareTo" function passes in an Object as a parameter, but I recommend only using a single user defined type as keys for each individual TreeMap in order to avoid using the instanceof operator in the "compareTo" function. In this lesson, you learned how to implement comparisons between user defined types using the functions "equals" and "hashCode" for java.lang.Object subclasses and "compareTo" for implementors of java.lang.Comparable .