Advertisement
Advertisement


What is the difference between up-casting and down-casting with respect to class variable


Question

What is the difference between up-casting and down-casting with respect to class variable?

For example in the following program class Animal contains only one method but Dog class contains two methods, then how we cast the Dog variable to the Animal Variable.

If casting is done then how can we call the Dog's another method with Animal's variable.

class Animal 
{ 
    public void callme()
    {
        System.out.println("In callme of Animal");
    }
}


class Dog extends Animal 
{ 
    public void callme()
    {
        System.out.println("In callme of Dog");
    }

    public void callme2()
    {
        System.out.println("In callme2 of Dog");
    }
}

public class UseAnimlas 
{
    public static void main (String [] args) 
    {
        Dog d = new Dog();      
        Animal a = (Animal)d;
        d.callme();
        a.callme();
        ((Dog) a).callme2();
    }
}
2016/12/18
1
139
12/18/2016 4:21:50 PM

Accepted Answer

Upcasting is casting to a supertype, while downcasting is casting to a subtype. Upcasting is always allowed, but downcasting involves a type check and can throw a ClassCastException.

In your case, a cast from a Dog to an Animal is an upcast, because a Dog is-a Animal. In general, you can upcast whenever there is an is-a relationship between two classes.

Downcasting would be something like this:

Animal animal = new Dog();
Dog castedDog = (Dog) animal;

Basically what you're doing is telling the compiler that you know what the runtime type of the object really is. The compiler will allow the conversion, but will still insert a runtime sanity check to make sure that the conversion makes sense. In this case, the cast is possible because at runtime animal is actually a Dog even though the static type of animal is Animal.

However, if you were to do this:

Animal animal = new Animal();
Dog notADog = (Dog) animal;

You'd get a ClassCastException. The reason why is because animal's runtime type is Animal, and so when you tell the runtime to perform the cast it sees that animal isn't really a Dog and so throws a ClassCastException.

To call a superclass's method you can do super.method() or by performing the upcast.

To call a subclass's method you have to do a downcast. As shown above, you normally risk a ClassCastException by doing this; however, you can use the instanceof operator to check the runtime type of the object before performing the cast, which allows you to prevent ClassCastExceptions:

Animal animal = getAnimal(); // Maybe a Dog? Maybe a Cat? Maybe an Animal?
if (animal instanceof Dog) {
    // Guaranteed to succeed, barring classloader shenanigans
    Dog castedDog = (Dog) animal;
}
2019/01/15
224
1/15/2019 12:50:41 PM

Down-casting and up-casting was as follows:
enter image description here

Upcasting: When we want to cast a Sub class to Super class, we use Upcasting(or widening). It happens automatically, no need to do anything explicitly.

Downcasting : When we want to cast a Super class to Sub class, we use Downcasting(or narrowing), and Downcasting is not directly possible in Java, explicitly we have to do.

Dog d = new Dog();
Animal a = (Animal) d; //Explicitly you have done upcasting. Actually no need, we can directly type cast like Animal a = d; compiler now treat Dog as Animal but still it is Dog even after upcasting
d.callme();
a.callme(); // It calls Dog's method even though we use Animal reference.
((Dog) a).callme2(); // Downcasting: Compiler does know Animal it is, In order to use Dog methods, we have to do typecast explicitly.
// Internally if it is not a Dog object it throws ClassCastException
2018/06/09

Upcasting and downcasting are important part of Java, which allow us to build complicated programs using simple syntax, and gives us great advantages, like Polymorphism or grouping different objects. Java permits an object of a subclass type to be treated as an object of any superclass type. This is called upcasting. Upcasting is done automatically, while downcasting must be manually done by the programmer, and i'm going to give my best to explain why is that so.

Upcasting and downcasting are NOT like casting primitives from one to other, and i believe that's what causes a lot of confusion, when programmer starts to learn casting objects.

Polymorphism: All methods in java are virtual by default. That means that any method can be overridden when used in inheritance, unless that method is declared as final or static.

You can see the example below how getType(); works according to the object(Dog,Pet,Police Dog) type.

Assume you have three dogs

  1. Dog - This is the super Class.

  2. Pet Dog - Pet Dog extends Dog.

  3. Police Dog - Police Dog extends Pet Dog.

    public class Dog{ 
       public String getType () {
          System.out.println("NormalDog");
          return "NormalDog";
       }
     }
    
    /**
     * Pet Dog has an extra method dogName()
     */   
    public class PetDog extends Dog{ 
       public String getType () {
          System.out.println("PetDog");
          return "PetDog";
       }
       public String dogName () {
          System.out.println("I don't have Name !!");
          return "NO Name";
       }
     }
    
    /**
     * Police Dog has an extra method secretId()
     */
    public class PoliceDog extends PetDog{
    
     public String secretId() {
        System.out.println("ID");
        return "ID";
     }
    
     public String getType () {
         System.out.println("I am a Police Dog");
         return "Police Dog";
     }
    }
    

Polymorphism : All methods in java are virtual by default. That means that any method can be overridden when used in inheritance, unless that method is declared as final or static.(Explanation Belongs to Virtual Tables Concept)

Virtual Table / Dispatch Table : An object's dispatch table will contain the addresses of the object's dynamically bound methods. Method calls are performed by fetching the method's address from the object's dispatch table. The dispatch table is the same for all objects belonging to the same class, and is therefore typically shared between them.

public static void main (String[] args) {
      /**
       * Creating the different objects with super class Reference
       */
     Dog obj1 = new Dog();
`         /**
           *  Object of Pet Dog is created with Dog Reference since                
           *  Upcasting is done automatically for us we don't have to worry about it 
           *  
           */
     Dog obj2 = new PetDog();
`         /**
           *  Object of Police Dog is created with Dog Reference since                
           *  Upcasting is done automatically for us we don't have to worry       
           *  about it here even though we are extending PoliceDog with PetDog 
           *  since PetDog is extending Dog Java automatically upcast for us 
           */
      Dog obj3 = new PoliceDog();
}



 obj1.getType();

Prints Normal Dog

  obj2.getType();

Prints Pet Dog

 obj3.getType();

Prints Police Dog

Downcasting need to be done by the programmer manually

When you try to invoke the secretID(); method on obj3 which is PoliceDog object but referenced to Dog which is a super class in the hierarchy it throws error since obj3 don't have access to secretId() method.In order to invoke that method you need to Downcast that obj3 manually to PoliceDog

  ( (PoliceDog)obj3).secretID();

which prints ID

In the similar way to invoke the dogName();method in PetDog class you need to downcast obj2 to PetDog since obj2 is referenced to Dog and don't have access to dogName(); method

  ( (PetDog)obj2).dogName();

Why is that so, that upcasting is automatical, but downcasting must be manual? Well, you see, upcasting can never fail. But if you have a group of different Dogs and want to downcast them all to a to their types, then there's a chance, that some of these Dogs are actually of different types i.e., PetDog, PoliceDog, and process fails, by throwing ClassCastException.

This is the reason you need to downcast your objects manually if you have referenced your objects to the super class type.

Note: Here by referencing means you are not changing the memory address of your ojects when you downcast it it still remains same you are just grouping them to particular type in this case Dog

2020/06/20

I know this question asked quite long time ago but for the new users of this question. Please read this article where contains complete description on upcasting, downcasting and use of instanceof operator

  • There's no need to upcast manually, it happens on its own:

    Mammal m = (Mammal)new Cat(); equals to Mammal m = new Cat();

  • But downcasting must always be done manually:

    Cat c1 = new Cat();      
    Animal a = c1;      //automatic upcasting to Animal
    Cat c2 = (Cat) a;    //manual downcasting back to a Cat
    

Why is that so, that upcasting is automatical, but downcasting must be manual? Well, you see, upcasting can never fail. But if you have a group of different Animals and want to downcast them all to a Cat, then there's a chance, that some of these Animals are actually Dogs, and process fails, by throwing ClassCastException. This is where is should introduce an useful feature called "instanceof", which tests if an object is instance of some Class.

 Cat c1 = new Cat();         
    Animal a = c1;       //upcasting to Animal
    if(a instanceof Cat){ // testing if the Animal is a Cat
        System.out.println("It's a Cat! Now i can safely downcast it to a Cat, without a fear of failure.");        
        Cat c2 = (Cat)a;
    }

For more information please read this article


Better try this method for upcasting, it's easy to understand:

/* upcasting problem */
class Animal
{ 
    public void callme()
    {
        System.out.println("In callme of Animal");
    }
}

class Dog extends Animal 
{ 
    public void callme()
    {
        System.out.println("In callme of Dog");
    }

    public void callme2()
    {
        System.out.println("In callme2 of Dog");
    }
}

public class Useanimlas 
{
    public static void main (String [] args) 
    {
        Animal animal = new Animal ();
        Dog dog = new Dog();
        Animal ref;
        ref = animal;
        ref.callme();
        ref = dog;
        ref.callme();
    }
}
2014/09/19

Maybe this table helps. Calling the callme() method of class Parent or class Child. As a principle:

UPCASTING --> Hiding

DOWNCASTING --> Revealing

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

2018/01/08