Conversion and coercion in Java
The accuracy and conversion of primitive arithmetic variables in Java is something that I'm questioned on regularly.
Ideally in Java, you'll perform arithmetic on two pieces of data of an identical type, and the result returned will be of the same type. However, if you perform a calculation on two different types the "least accurate" will be coerced up to the accuracy of the second. For example, integer is coerced to float which in turn may be coerced to a double.
What does this mean?
|Stored in variable|
|a = 5.0/2||D/I||D||D|
|b = 5/2.0F||I/F||F||F or D|
|c = 5/2||I/I||I||I L F or D|
|d = 5/2.0||I/D||D||D|
I - int
L - long
F - float
D - double
Note that a constant such as 2.0
id double, whereas 2.0f
If you wish to save a result into a "less accurate" variable, you may do so by casting it. For example
a = (float) (5/2.0)
will convert an integer up to a double for the division through coersion and will then cast it back to a float before saving it in the variable a
for a download of my "variables in Java" training notes released under an open training notes license
. Further examples of simple variable use in Java can be found in our modules resource centre
. (written 2004-11-22, updated 2006-06-05)
Associated topics are indexed underJ703 - Java - Variables 
BODMAS - the order a computer evaluates arithmetic expressions - (2012-11-09) 
Turning bright delegates into bright and knowledgable ones - (2011-07-21) 
Do I need to initialise variables - programming in C, C++, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby or Java. - (2011-05-05) 
Java - basic rules for arithmetic, variables and conversion - (2010-11-10) 
Setting up individual variables, and arrays, in Java - some commented examples - (2010-11-09) 
Class Loading and Variable Conversion in Java - (2009-05-02) 
Variable scope in Java Servlets and other web applications - (2009-05-01) 
Question on division (Java) - Also Perl, PHP, Python ... - (2007-11-28)
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