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Thinking in Java
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3: Controlling Program Flow

Like a sentient creature, a program must manipulate its world and make choices during execution.

In Java you manipulate data using operators, and you make choices with execution control statements. Java was inherited from C++, so most of these statements and operators will be familiar to C and C++ programmers. Java has also added some improvements and simplifications.

If you find yourself floundering a bit in this chapter, make sure you go through the multimedia CD ROM bound into this book: Foundations for Java. It contains audio lectures, slides, exercises, and solutions specifically designed to bring you up to speed with the fundamentals necessary to learn Java.

Using Java operators

An operator takes one or more arguments and produces a new value. The arguments are in a different form than ordinary method calls, but the effect is the same. Addition (+), subtraction and unary minus (-), multiplication (*), division (/), and assignment (=) all work much the same in any programming language.

All operators produce a value from their operands. In addition, an operator can change the value of an operand. This is called a side effect. The most common use for operators that modify their operands is to generate the side effect, but you should keep in mind that the value produced is available for your use, just as in operators without side effects.

Almost all operators work only with primitives. The exceptions are ‘=’, ‘==’ and ‘!=’, which work with all objects (and are a point of confusion for objects). In addition, the String class supports ‘+’ and ‘+=’.
Thinking in Java
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire