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Thinking in Java
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Arrays in Java

Virtually all programming languages support arrays. Using arrays in C and C++ is perilous because those arrays are only blocks of memory. If a program accesses the array outside of its memory block or uses the memory before initialization (common programming errors), there will be unpredictable results.

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.

When you create an array of objects, you are really creating an array of references, and each of those references is automatically initialized to a special value with its own keyword: null. When Java sees null, it recognizes that the reference in question isn’t pointing to an object. You must assign an object to each reference before you use it, and if you try to use a reference that’s still null, the problem will be reported at run time. Thus, typical array errors are prevented in Java.

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

Arrays will be covered in detail in later chapters.
Thinking in Java
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire