Java Abstract and Polymophism Examples

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Object-oriented programming allows for simplified programming. Its benefits include reusability, refactoring, extensibility, maintenance and efficiency. Here are some the features that enhance simplification greatly.


Polymorphism is the ability of an object to take on many forms. The most common use of polymorphism in OOP occurs when a parent class reference is used to refer to a child class object.

Any Java object that can pass more than one IS-A test is considered to be polymorphic. In Java, all Java objects are polymorphic since any object will pass the IS-A test for their own type and for the class Object.

It is important to know that the only possible way to access an object is through a reference variable. A reference variable can be of only one type. Once declared, the type of a reference variable cannot be changed.

The reference variable can be reassigned to other objects provided that it is not declared final. The type of the reference variable would determine the methods that it can invoke on the object.

A reference variable can refer to any object of its declared type or any subtype of its declared type. A reference variable can be declared as a class or interface type.


Let us look at an example.

public interface Vegetarian

public class Animal

public class Deer extends Animal implements Vegetarian

Now, the Deer class is considered to be polymorphic since this has multiple inheritance. The following are true for the above example:

• A Deer IS-A Animal

• A Deer IS-A Vegetarian

• A Deer IS-A Deer

• A Deer IS-A Object

When we apply the reference variable facts to a Deer object reference, the following declarations are legal:

Deer d = new Deer();

Animal a = d;

Vegetarian v = d;

Object o = d;


Abstraction refers to the ability to make a class abstract in OOP. An abstract class is one that cannot be instantiated. All other functionality of the class still exists, and its fields, methods, and constructors are all accessed in the same manner. You just cannot create an instance of the abstract class.

If a class is abstract and cannot be instantiated, the class does not have much use unless it is subclass. This is typically how abstract classes come about during the design phase. A parent class contains the common functionality of a collection of child classes, but the parent class itself is too abstract to be used on its own.

Abstract Class:

Use the abstract keyword to declare a class abstract. The keyword appears in the class declaration somewhere before the class keyword.

/* File name: */

public abstract class Employee

private String name;

private String address;

private int number;

public Employee(String name, String address, int number)

System.out.println(“Constructing an Employee”); = name;

this.address = address;

this.number = number;

public double computePay()

System.out.println(“Inside Employee computePay”);

return 0.0;

public void mailCheck()

System.out.println(“Mailing a check to ” +

+ ” ” + this.address);

public String toString()

return name + ” ” + address + ” ” + number;

public String getName()

return name;

public String getAddress()

return address;

public void setAddress(String newAddress)

address = newAddress;

public int getNumber()

return number;

Notice that nothing is different in this Employee class. The class is now abstract, but it still has three fields, seven methods, and one constructor.

Abstract Methods:

If you want a class to contain a particular method but you want the actual implementation of that method to be determined by child classes, you can declare the method in the parent class as abstract.

The abstract keyword is also used to declare a method as abstract. An abstract method consists of a method signature, but no method body.

Abstract method would have no definition, and its signature is followed by a semicolon, not curly braces as follows:

public abstract class Employee

private String name;

private String address;

private int number;

public abstract double computePay();

//Remainder of class definition

Declaring a method as abstract has two results:

• The class must also be declared abstract. If a class contains an abstract method, the class must be abstract as well.

• Any child class must either override the abstract method or declare itself abstract.

A child class that inherits an abstract method must override it. If they do not, they must be abstract and any of their children must override it.

Eventually, a descendant class has to implement the abstract method; otherwise, you would have a hierarchy of abstract classes that cannot be instantiated.

Source by James Kigwa

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