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Converting numeric values

From: Java Essential Training

Video: Converting numeric values

There will be times in your applications when you need to convert values from one data type to another. It's important to understand how data types are converted especially when working with primitives. Here are the primitive numeric data types arranged in order from the greatest memory usage and the largest ranges to the smallest memory usage again the smallest ranges. So the double takes 64-bits and can handle the greatest precession or as the byte has the smallest range. When you convert a value from say a byte to a short, a short to an int or an int to a long, we call that converting upward, you're taking a value that fits easily into the next value upward.

Converting numeric values

There will be times in your applications when you need to convert values from one data type to another. It's important to understand how data types are converted especially when working with primitives. Here are the primitive numeric data types arranged in order from the greatest memory usage and the largest ranges to the smallest memory usage again the smallest ranges. So the double takes 64-bits and can handle the greatest precession or as the byte has the smallest range. When you convert a value from say a byte to a short, a short to an int or an int to a long, we call that converting upward, you're taking a value that fits easily into the next value upward.

You can do this sort of conversion with very simple syntax. Here I'm declaring an integer value of 120 and then passing that value to a new variable data typed as a double, the value of 120 can fit easily in either data type. And so the result is that you have a value of 120, the double version would have the decimal value of 0, the integer value would be truncated but they would fundamentally have the same value. We call this sort of numeric conversion implicit you can simply assign a value from one variable to another without any special notation and because all of the conversion is reliable that is the values will fit in both variables easily you don't have to say anything specific in your code about it.

When you're converting values in the other direction though you can run into some trouble and so Java requires you to be explicit in these sorts of conversions, once again here is my listing of the numeric data types, but now I'm indicating through the arrows that I'm going to do the conversions in the other direction from a double to a float or a float to a long. We call these downward conversions. Here is an example, I'm starting with the double value of 3.99 and then I try to convert the value to an integer by simply assigning the value to the new variable.

You won't even be able to compile this code because Java knows that you're in danger of loosing data. So if you add this code to your Java class and try to save and compile you'll get a compile-time error. The compiler will tell you that those two data types aren't compatible with each other. So you instead have to explicitly tell the compiler that you know what you're doing and you do this by adding the target data type before the original value wrapped in parenthesis, here is the added syntax this means take the doubleValue and cast or convert the value to an integer and then you can pass the value over.

You're still in danger of loosing data; the value of 3.99 which fits fine in a doubleValue doesn't fit in an integer value, because integers can't have fractional amounts. So when you do this you're going to truncate the value, it's going to end up as the value 3, but you've told the Java compiler that that's what you want to do and so the compiler will let you do it. The double value will still be 3 .99, but the integer will be 3. So the lesson to take from this is that when you converting downward you have to be explicit in your code and you have to know that you might change the data.

The dangers of downward conversion aren't limited to simply truncating and loosing values you could actually change values pretty dramatically. Let's take an example where you start off with an integer and you want to convert it to a byte. Well, the ranges of integers and bytes are very different; integers can handle values in the two millions both positive and negative whereas bytes can only handle values from negative 128 to positive 127. So what happens if you start off with an integer say if 128 that exceeds the range of the byte and then you explicitly tell Java I want to turn this into a byte what is it going to do.

Well it's going to take the value that exceeds the range of the target data type the byte and it's going to wrap around and assign an opposite value. So if you start off with a positive you end up with a negative, the result of this code would be a Value of b of -128. Remember the range of a byte goes from negative 128 to positive 127. I'm trying to assign a value that exceeds that range by 1, so it wraps around by 1 and becomes negative 128, the smallest possible number instead of the greatest possible number.

You'll see this sort of conversion this wrapping around whenever you try to convert a value downward from one data type to another. Finally, in the discussion of converting numeric values it's worth mentioning that there are two possible ways of doing it. When you're converting between primitive data types you can either use this casting syntax that I've shown or you can use those helper classes, the double class, the byte class, the integer class and so on. The simple casting syntax uses the target data type wrapped in parenthesis right before the original value.

So here I have a double value, a primitive double starting off a 3.99, I explicitly convert that to an integer using the casting syntax and now I can assign that to an int. Again I'm going to truncate values, I'm going to loose data but it's going to work. So use the helper class approach, the first step is to create an instance of the helper class wrapped around the primitive value. So here I'm starting once again with a primitive and then I'm creating an instance of the double class wrapped around the primitive, I'm calling that double0bj.

Once I have that reference that complex object I can then call any of its method, so now I'm going to call the intValue method, it's going to return an integer and I can assign that to the primitive int. Either of the syntax styles will work fine. There is a minor advantage to the simple casting syntax clearly it takes less code, but also you're not adding another object to memory. When you use the helper class method you are creating an instance of that double class that you really don't need. So for the most part the simple casting syntax is preferred and the only time I would recommend using the helper class approach is when you want to store that data for the longer term and do multiple things with it.

Convert it to an integer and a byte and a float and so on. So that to look at issues around converting numeric values from one data type to another. You can use either the casting of the helper class method syntax and always be aware of what happens when you try to cast from one data type to another. When you are converting the data upward through the data types all the conversions are implicit and safe, when you're converting downward beware of loosing data, wrapping values around, and also note that you have to be explicit in your instructions to the compiler.

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This video is part of

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Java Essential Training

71 video lessons · 69596 viewers

David Gassner
Author

 
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  1. 10m 8s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Is this course for you?
      5m 35s
    3. Using the exercise files
      3m 30s
  2. 31m 24s
    1. The history of Java
      5m 19s
    2. Java compilation and syntax
      8m 54s
    3. Understanding the principles of Java
      8m 28s
    4. Choosing a development environment
      8m 43s
  3. 19m 5s
    1. Installing Java on Windows
      6m 42s
    2. Installing Eclipse on Windows
      3m 19s
    3. Exploring Java on Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard
      2m 27s
    4. Installing Java on Mac OS X Lion
      3m 27s
    5. Installing Eclipse on Mac OS X
      3m 10s
  4. 46m 10s
    1. Creating a Hello World application
      11m 7s
    2. Exploring the Eclipse IDE
      8m 55s
    3. Compiling and running from the command line
      8m 2s
    4. Passing arguments to the application
      8m 17s
    5. Using the Java API documentation
      4m 5s
    6. Memory management and garbage collection
      5m 44s
  5. 58m 57s
    1. Everything is an object
      5m 59s
    2. Declaring and initializing variables
      9m 15s
    3. Working with numbers
      8m 32s
    4. Converting numeric values
      6m 40s
    5. Understanding operators
      7m 58s
    6. Working with character values
      5m 14s
    7. Working with boolean values
      5m 13s
    8. Outputting primitive values as strings
      5m 33s
    9. Creating a simple calculator application
      4m 33s
  6. 53m 40s
    1. Writing conditional code
      5m 35s
    2. Using the switch statement
      8m 50s
    3. Repeating code blocks with loops
      7m 35s
    4. Creating reusable code with methods
      6m 31s
    5. Declaring methods with arguments
      5m 41s
    6. Overloading method names with different signatures
      5m 53s
    7. Passing arguments by reference or by value
      5m 35s
    8. Creating a more complex calculator application
      8m 0s
  7. 20m 30s
    1. Using the String class
      5m 44s
    2. Building strings with StringBuilder
      3m 34s
    3. Parsing string values
      3m 19s
    4. Working with date values
      7m 53s
  8. 20m 44s
    1. Understanding compile-time vs. runtime errors
      4m 5s
    2. Handling exceptions with try/catch
      4m 55s
    3. Throwing exceptions in methods
      2m 50s
    4. Using the debugger
      8m 54s
  9. 32m 22s
    1. Using simple arrays
      4m 47s
    2. Using two-dimensional arrays
      6m 17s
    3. Managing resizable arrays with ArrayList
      7m 14s
    4. Managing unordered data with HashMap
      6m 5s
    5. Looping through collections with iterators
      7m 59s
  10. 52m 2s
    1. Understanding encapsulation
      5m 59s
    2. Creating and instantiating custom classes
      8m 8s
    3. Organizing classes with packages
      6m 47s
    4. Creating and using instance methods
      6m 52s
    5. Storing data in instance variables
      6m 56s
    6. Using constructor methods
      5m 40s
    7. Managing instance data with getter and setter methods
      8m 26s
    8. Using class variables and Enum classes
      3m 14s
  11. 41m 15s
    1. Understanding inheritance and polymorphism
      9m 12s
    2. Extending custom classes
      9m 1s
    3. Overriding superclass methods
      3m 8s
    4. Casting subclass objects
      5m 3s
    5. Understanding interfaces and implementing classes
      4m 2s
    6. Creating your own interfaces
      4m 14s
    7. Using abstract classes and methods
      6m 35s
  12. 32m 17s
    1. Managing files with the core class library
      7m 46s
    2. Managing files with Apache Commons FileUtils
      7m 32s
    3. Reading a text file from a networked resource
      7m 52s
    4. Parsing an XML file with DOM
      9m 7s
  13. 17m 39s
    1. Creating your own JAR files
      4m 54s
    2. Understanding the classpath
      5m 2s
    3. Documenting code with Javadoc
      7m 43s
  14. 47s
    1. Goodbye
      47s

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