Inheritance In Java

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Inheritance is one of the most crucial concepts in object-oriented programming, and it has a very direct effect on how you design and write your Java classes. Inheritance is a powerful mechanism that means when you write a class you only have to specify how that class is different from some other class; inheritance will give you automatic access to the information contained in that other class.

With inheritance, all classes-those you write, those from other class libraries that you use, and those from the standard utility classes as well-are arranged in a strict hierarchy . Each class has a superclass and each class can have one or more subclasses (classes below that class in the hierarchy). Classes further down in the hierarchy are said to inherit from classes further up in the hierarchy.

Subclasses inherit all the methods and variables from their superclasses-that is, in any particular class, if the superclass defines behavior that your class needs, you don’t have to redefine it or copy that code from some other class. Your class automatically gets that behavior from its superclass, that superclass gets behavior from its superclass, and so on all the way up the hierarchy. Your class becomes a combination of all the features of the classes above it in the hierarchy.


Inheritance is a concept in object-oriented programming where all classes are arranged in a strict hierarchy. Each class in the hierarchy has superclasses (classes above it in the hierarchy) and any number of subclasses (classes below it in the hierarchy). Subclasses inherit attributes and behavior from their superclasses.

At the top of the Java class hierarchy is the class Object ; all classes inherit from this one superclass. Object is the most general class in the hierarchy; it defines behavior inherited by all the classes in Java. Each class further down in the hierarchy adds more information and becomes more tailored to a specific purpose. In this way, you can think of a class hierarchy as defining very abstract concepts at the top of the hierarchy and those ideas becoming more concrete the farther down the chain of superclasses you go.

Subclassing is the process of creating a new class that inherits from some other already-existing class.

Overriding a method is creating a method in a subclass that has the same signature (name, number, and type of arguments) as a method in a superclass. That new method then hides the superclass’s method


Single and Multiple Inheritance

Java’s form of inheritance, as you learned in the previous sections, is called single inheritance. Single inheritance means that each Java class can have only one superclass (although any given superclass can have multiple subclasses).

In other object-oriented programming languages, such as C++, classes can have more than one superclass, and they inherit combined variables and methods from all those classes. This is called multiple inheritance. Multiple inheritance can provide enormous power in terms of being able to create classes that factor just about all imaginable behavior, but it can also significantly complicate class definitions and the code to produce them. Java makes inheritance simpler by being only singly inherited.

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