Abstract Class Program in Java

Abstraction is a technique by which a developer hides the implementation details from the user and shows only the functionality.It is not only confined to the programming. In the real-world also abstraction is achieved.

For example, a person presses a switch to turn on the light. However, the person does not know the technicality behind it. The person only knows that when the switch is pressed, the bulb glows. Similarly, when the brakes are applied by the driver to stop a car, the car stops. The driver, who applied the brakes, does not know the physics of car brakes. He only knows the car has to stop if the brakes are applied.

In Java, abstraction is achieved through interfaces or abstract classes. We will discuss interfaces in the next topic. In this section, we will discuss abstract class in Java and the usage of abstract classes in programming.

What is an abstract class?

In Java, when the declaration of a class contains the keyword abstract, that class is an abstract class. An abstract class can have constructors, static methods, final methods, fields, and abstract methods. An abstract class can never be instantiated.

What is an abstract method?

An abstract method is a method that is declared with the abstract keyword. It never contains the definition of the method. Classes inheriting an abstract class either give the definition of the abstract method or should be declared as abstract. It is not mandatory for an abstract class to contain an abstract method. Also, if a method is declared as abstract, it cannot be static. Similarly, if a method is declared as static, it cannot be abstract. In other words, static and abstract keywords do not go side by side in a method declaration.

The following Java code illustrates how to create an abstract class.

FileName: AbstractClassExample.java


Explanation: Static methods are also the class methods. This is because we can invoke a static method using the class name. The same thing we are doing with the method display(). Note that instantiation is prohibited in the abstract class, not the usage of the class name. Therefore, we are able to invoke the method display() using the class name Ab. Apart from the abstract and static methods, we can also add instance methods in an abstract class.

Usage of the abstract class in real world

Abstract classes are mainly used where it is known what needs to be done, but it is not known how it is done. We usually leave the accomplishment part to the classes that inherit from the abstract class. The following example demonstrates the same.

FileName: PaymentMainClass.Java


Explanation: In the abstract class, we set the template of what needs to be done, i.e., for making a payment, we have declared a method pay(). The different types of payment classes give the definition of the method pay() in a different way. Thus, the implementation varies from one payment child class to another payment child class. Also, every-time an of different payment class is created, the constructor of the abstract class is invoked (see the output). This means the behavior of a constructor remains the same in the abstract class too.

Abstract Class and the Open Close Principle

Not only in the payment field, in drawing geometrical shapes, for calculating the rate of interest of different banks, and in many more fields, we can declare an abstract class containing abstract methods and let the inheriting class decide how to implement those abstract methods. This serves two purposes: one is the extension of code to handle future requirements (open for extension), which becomes very easy, and another is the base class that is not disturbed while doing the extension (closed for modification).  Let’s understand with the help of the following code.

FileName: InterestMainClass.Java


Explanation: The above-written code is quite flexible in handling future requirements. For example, suppose HDFC bank is closed forever. Then, we can comment out the class, which is handling the bank HDFC, i.e., class HDFCBank. Also, we have to comment out the object creation of the class HDFCBank in the driver method. The rest of the other code remains intact (closed for modification). Similarly, if we have to add another bank and its rate of interest (extending the code to incorporate more banks, i.e., open for extension), we can create its class and extend it from the abstract class Interest. This time also, we did not touch the classes of other banks.

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