Java: The Complete Reference, Ninth Edition

Author: Herbert Schildt
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by anonymous   2019-01-13

This is taken from Java: The Complete Reference, Ninth Edition

Java uses primitive types (also called simple types), such as int or double, to hold the basic data types supported by the language. Primitive types, rather than objects, are used for these quantities for the sake of performance. Using objects for these values would add an unacceptable overhead to even the simplest of calculations. Thus, the primitive types are not part of the object hierarchy, and they do not inherit Object.

Despite the performance benefit offered by the primitive types, there are times when you will need an object representation. For example, you can’t pass a primitive type by reference to a method. Also, many of the standard data structures implemented by Java operate on objects, which means that you can’t use these (object specific) data structures to store primitive types. To handle these (and other) situations, Java provides type wrappers, which are classes that encapsulate a primitive type within an object.

Wrapper classes relate directly to Java’s autoboxing feature. The type wrappers are Double, Float, Long, Integer, Short, Byte, Character, and Boolean. These classes offer a wide array of methods that allow you to fully integrate the primitive types into Java’s object hierarchy.