Inheritance in Java

Inheritance allows code defined in one class to be reused in another class. Inheritance in Java allows an object to acquire all the properties (variables) and behavior (methods) of the parent object.

With the use of Inheritance, the information is made manageable in a hierarchical order.

The class which inherits the properties from other class is known as a subclass (or derived class or extended class or child class), and the class whose properties are inherited is known as  Superclass (or parent class or base class).

Superclass does n’t know anything about the child which inherits it, but the subclasses which inherit the superclass must explicitly declare the inheritance relationship.

In Java to inherit a class, extends keyword is used.

Syntax:

 

 

The idea behind Inheritance:

The idea of inheritance is simple but powerful: When you want to create a new class, and there is already a class that includes some of the code that you want, you can derive your new class from the existing class.

This way you can reuse the variables and methods of the existing class without having to write (and debug!) them yourself.

An Example of Inheritance:

Let us consider, a class with name Machine which has a variable with name engine and three methods with name start(), stop() and setEngine().

Another class is created with name Car which inherits(extends) Machine class. Here, we created a method with name restart() and accessed the variable (with name engine) of the superclass.

Another class is created which has a main method, here we have created three different objects, see below code for your reference:

In above code, we have created three different objects with name “mac”, “alto” and “bmw”.

“mac” object is an instance of class Machine, so can access methods and variables only from Machine class.

“alto” is an instance of Car class, and can access methods and variable of both the classes (Machine and Car).

“bmw” is an instance of Machine class, but is initialized as  Car class, so can access method of only Machine class, but the constructor of both the classes.

Note: Constructors are not inherited by subclasses, but the constructor of a superclass can be invoked from a subclass.

Things you can do in a subclass:

  • The inherited members (variables and methods) of a superclass can be used directly in the subclass.
  • You can declare a variable in the subclass with the same name as in superclass (hiding the variable of super class) not recommended.
  • You can write a method with same name and signature as one in the superclass (Overriding).
  • You can write a subclass constructor that invokes the constructor of the superclass, either implicitly or by using super keyword.

The Super Keyword:

The super keyword is similar to this keyword. Following are the scenarios where the super keyword is used.

  • It is used to differentiate the members of superclass from the members of the subclass, if they have same names.
  • It is used to invoke the superclass constructor from subclass.

To differentiate between members of the super class and subclass use below syntax:

super.variable

super.method();

PS: For any questions, queries or feedback. Feel free to write us at saurabh@qatechhub.com or support@qatechhub.com

Saurabh Dhingra

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