You must create all the objects

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all
the objects

When
you create a handle, you want to connect it with a new object. You do so, in
general, with the
new
keyword.
new
says, “Make me a new one of these objects.” So in the above
example, you can say:

String
s = new String("asdf");

Not
only does this mean “Make me a new
String,”
but it also gives information about
how
to make the
String
by supplying an initial character string.

Of
course,
String
is not the only type that exists. Java comes with a plethora of ready-made
types. What’s more important is that you can create your own types. In
fact, that’s the fundamental activity in Java programming, and it’s
what you’ll be learning about in the rest of this book.

Where
storage lives

It’s
useful to visualize some aspects of how things are laid out while the program
is running, in particular how memory is arranged. There are six different
places to store data:

  1. Registers.
    This is the fastest storage because it exists in a place different than that of
    other storage: inside the processor. However, the number of registers is
    severely limited, so registers are allocated by the compiler according to its
    needs. You don’t have direct control, nor do you see any evidence in your
    programs that registers even exist.
  2. The
    stack
    .
    This lives in the general RAM (random-access memory) 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 compiler must know, while it is creating the
    program, the exact size and lifetime of all the data that is stored on the
    stack, because it must generate the code to move the stack pointer up and down.
    This constraint places limits on the flexibility of your programs, so while
    some Java storage exists on the stack – in particular, object handles
    – Java objects are not placed on the stack.
  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’t need to know how much storage it needs to allocate from
    the heap or how long that storage must stay on the heap. Thus, there’s a
    great deal of flexibility in using storage on the heap. Whenever you need to
    create an object, you simply write the code to create it using
    new
    and
    the storage is allocated on the heap when that code is executed. And of course
    there’s a price you pay for this flexibility: it takes more time to
    allocate heap storage.
  4. Static
    storage
    .
    “Static” is used here in the sense of “in a fixed
    location” (although it’s also in RAM). Static storage contains data
    that is available for the entire time a program is running. You can use the
    static
    keyword to specify that a particular element of an object is static, but Java
    objects themselves are never placed in static storage.
  5. 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).
  6. 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 1.1

    provides support for
    lightweight
    persistence
    ,
    and future versions of Java might provide more complete solutions for
    persistence.

Special
case: primitive types

There
is a group of types that gets special treatment; you can think of these as
“primitive” types that you use quite often in your programming. The
reason for the special treatment is that to create an object with
new,
especially a small, simple variable, isn’t 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 using
new,
an “automatic” variable is created that
is
not a handle
.
The variable holds the value, and it’s placed on the stack so it’s
much more efficient.

Java
determines the size of each primitive type. These sizes don’t change from
one machine architecture to another as they do in most languages. This size
invariance is one reason Java programs are so portable.

Primitive
type

Size

Minimum

Maximum

Wrapper
type

boolean

1-bit

Boolean

char

16-bit

Unicode
0

Unicode
2
16-
1

Character

byte

8-bit

-128

+127

Byte[11]

short

16-bit

-215

+215
– 1

Short1

int

32-bit

-231

+231
– 1

Integer

long

64-bit

-263

+263
– 1

Long

float

32-bit

IEEE754

IEEE754

Float

double

64-bit

IEEE754

IEEE754

Double

void

Void1

All
numeric types are signed, so don’t go looking for unsigned types.

The
primitive data types also have “wrapper”

classes
for them. That means that if you want to make a non-primitive object on the
heap to represent that primitive type, you use the associated wrapper. For
example:

char
c = 'x';

Character
C = new Character(c);

or
you could also use:

Character
C = new Character('x');

The
reasons for doing this will be shown in a later chapter.


High-precision
numbers

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’s just that you must use method calls instead of operators. Also,
since there’s more involved, the operations will be slower. You’re
exchanging speed for accuracy.

BigInteger
supports arbitrary-precision integers. This means that you can accurately
represent integral values of any size without losing any information during
operations.

BigDecimal
is for arbitrary-precision fixed-point numbers; you can use these for accurate
monetary calculations, for example.

Arrays
in Java

One
of the primary goals of Java is safety, so many of the problems that plague
programmers in C and C++ are not repeated in Java. A Java array is guaranteed
to be initialized and cannot be accessed outside of its range. The range
checking comes at the price of having a small amount of memory overhead on each
array as well as verifying the index at run time, but the assumption is that
the safety and increased productivity is worth the expense.

You
can also create an array of primitives. Again, the compiler guarantees
initialization because it zeroes the memory for that array.


[11]
In Java version 1.1 only, not in 1.0.

[12]
In C++ you should often use the safer containers in the Standard Template
Library as an alternative to arrays.

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