Thinking in Java - 4th Edition
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Thinking in Java - 4th Edition


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\u201cobject references.\u201d And (he goes on) everything is actually pass by value. So you\u2019re not passing 
by reference, you\u2019re \u201cpassing an object reference by value.\u201d One could argue for the precision of such convoluted 
explanations, but I think my approach simplifies the understanding of the concept without hurting anything (well, the 
language lawyers may claim that I\u2019m lying to you, but I\u2019ll say that I\u2019m providing an appropriate abstraction). 
 
the room and still control the television, you take the remote/reference with you, not the 
television. 
Also, the remote control can stand on its own, with no television. That is, just because you 
have a reference doesn\u2019t mean there\u2019s necessarily an object connected to it. So if you want to 
hold a word or sentence, you create a String reference: 
String s; 
But here you\u2019ve created only the reference, not an object. If you decided to send a message to 
s at this point, you\u2019ll get an error because s isn\u2019t actually attached to anything (there\u2019s no 
television). A safer practice, then, is always to initialize a reference when you create it: 
String s = "asdf"; 
However, this uses a special Java feature: Strings can be initialized with quoted text. 
Normally, you must use a more general type of initialization for objects. 
You must create 
 all the objects 
When you create a reference, you want to connect it with a new object. You do so, in general, 
with the new operator. The keyword new says, \u201cMake me a new one of these objects.\u201d So in 
the preceding example, you can say: 
String s = new String("asdf"); 
Not only does this mean \u201cMake me a new String,\u201d but it also gives information about how to 
make the String by supplying an initial character string. 
Of course, Java comes with a plethora of ready-made types in addition to String. What\u2019s 
more important is that you can create your own types. In fact, creating new types is the 
fundamental activity in Java programming, and it\u2019s what you\u2019ll be learning about in the rest 
of this book. 
Where storage lives 
It\u2019s useful to visualize some aspects of how things are laid out while the program is running\u2014
in particular how memory is arranged. There are five different places to store data: 
1. Registers. This is the fastest storage because it exists in a place different from that of 
other storage: inside the processor. However, the number of registers is severely 
limited, so registers are allocated as they are needed. You don\u2019t have direct control, 
nor do you see any evidence in your programs that registers even exist (C & C++, on 
the other hand, allow you to suggest register allocation to the compiler). 
 
2. The stack. This lives in the general random-access memory (RAM) area, but has 
direct support from the processor via its stack pointer. The stack pointer is moved 
down to create new memory and moved up to release that memory. This is an 
extremely fast and efficient way to allocate storage, second only to registers. The Java 
system must know, while it is creating the program, the exact lifetime of all the items 
that are stored on the stack. This constraint places limits on the flexibility of your 
programs, so while some Java storage exists on the stack\u2014in particular, object 
references\u2014Java objects themselves are not placed on the stack. 
 
42 Thinking in Java Bruce Eckel 
Everything Is an Object 43 
3. The heap. This is a general-purpose pool of memory (also in the RAM area) where all 
Java objects live. The nice thing about the heap is that, unlike the stack, the compiler 
doesn\u2019t need to know how long that storage must stay on the heap. Thus, there\u2019s a 
great deal of flexibility in using storage on the heap. Whenever you need an object, you 
simply write the code to create it by using new, and the storage is allocated on the 
heap when that code is executed. Of course there\u2019s a price you pay for this flexibility: It 
may take more time to allocate and clean up heap storage than stack storage (if you 
even could create objects on the stack in Java, as you can in C++). 
 
4. Constant storage. Constant values are often placed directly in the program code, 
which is safe since they can never change. Sometimes constants are cordoned off by 
themselves so that they can be optionally placed in read-only memory (ROM), in 
embedded systems.2 
 
5. Non-RAM storage. If data lives completely outside a program, it can exist while the 
program is not running, outside the control of the program. The two primary 
examples of this are streamed objects, in which objects are turned into streams of 
bytes, generally to be sent to another machine, and persistent objects, in which the 
objects are placed on disk so they will hold their state even when the program is 
terminated. The trick with these types of storage is turning the objects into something 
that can exist on the other medium, and yet can be resurrected into a regular RAM-
based object when necessary. Java provides support for lightweight persistence, and 
mechanisms such as JDBC and Hibernate provide more sophisticated support for 
storing and retrieving object information in databases. 
Special case: primitive types 
One group of types, which you\u2019ll use quite often in your programming, gets special treatment. 
You can think of these as \u201cprimitive\u201d types. The reason for the special treatment is that to 
create an object with new\u2014especially a small, simple variable\u2014isn\u2019t very efficient, because 
new places objects on the heap. For these types Java falls back on the approach taken by C 
and C++. That is, instead of creating the variable by using new, an \u201cautomatic\u201d variable is 
created that is not a reference. The variable holds the value directly, and it\u2019s placed on the 
stack, so it\u2019s much more efficient. 
Java determines the size of each primitive type. These sizes don\u2019t change from one machine 
architecture to another as they do in most languages. This size invariance is one reason Java 
programs are more portable than programs in most other languages. 
Primitive 
type 
Size Minimum Maximum Wrapper type 
boolean \u2014 \u2014 \u2014 Boolean 
char 16 bits Unicode 0 Unicode 216- 1 Character 
byte 8 bits -128 +127 Byte 
short 16 bits -215 +215-1 Short 
int 32 bits -231 +231-1 Integer 
long 64 bits -263 +263-1 Long 
float 32 bits IEEE754 IEEE754 Float 
double 64 bits IEEE754 IEEE754 Double 
void \u2014 \u2014 \u2014 Void 
                                                            
2 An example of this is the string pool. All literal strings and string-valued constant expressions are interned automatically 
and put into special static storage. 
All numeric types are signed, so don\u2019t look for unsigned types. 
The size of the boolean type is not explicitly specified; it is only defined to be able to take 
the literal values true or false. 
The \u201cwrapper\u201d classes for the primitive data types allow you to make a non-primitive object 
on the heap to represent that primitive type. For example: 
char c = \u2018x\u2019; 
Character ch = new Character(c); 
Or you could also use: 
Character ch = new Character(\u2018x\u2019); 
Java SE5 autoboxing will automatically convert from a primitive to a wrapper type: 
Character ch = \u2018x\u2019; 
and back: 
char c = ch; 
The reasons for wrapping primitives will be shown in a later chapter. 
High-precision numbers 
Java includes two classes for performing high-precision arithmetic: BigInteger and 
BigDecimal. Although these approximately fit into the same category as the \u201cwrapper\u201d 
classes, neither one has a primitive analogue. 
Both classes have methods that provide analogues for the operations that you perform on 
primitive types. That is, you can do anything with a BigInteger or BigDecimal that you 
can with an int or float, it\u2019s just that you must use method calls instead of operators. Also, 
since there\u2019s more involved, the operations will be slower. You\u2019re exchanging speed for 
accuracy. 
BigInteger supports arbitrary-precision integers.