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Java How to Program, 6/e

© 2005
pages: 1576
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This tutorial introduces Java 5.0's new "varargs" (variable length argument lists) feature that enables methods to receive variable numbers of arguments. This tutorial is intended for students who are familiar with Java methods and arrays and for Java developers.

Download the code examples for this tutorial here.

[Note: This tutorial is an excerpt (Section 7.11) of Chapter 7, Arrays, from our textbook Java How to Program, 6/e. This tutorials may refer to other chapters or sections of the book that are not included here. Permission Information: Deitel, Harvey M. and Paul J., JAVA HOW TO PROGRAM, ©2005, pp.322-323. Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.]

Variable-Length Argument Lists

Variable-length argument lists are a new feature in J2SE 5.0. Programmers can create methods that receive an unspecified number of arguments. An argument type followed by an ellipsis (...) in a method's parameter list indicates that the method receives a variable number of arguments of that particular type. This use of the ellipsis can occur only once in a parameter list, and the ellipsis, together with its type, must be placed at the end of the parameter list. While programmers can use method overloading and array passing to accomplish much of what is accomplished with "varargs," or variable-length argument lists, using an ellipsis in a method's parameter list is more concise.

     Figure 7.20 demonstrates method average (lines 7-16), which receives a variable-length sequence of doubles. Java treats the variable-length argument list as an array whose elements are all of the same type. Hence, the method body can manipulate the parameter numbers as an array of doubles. Lines 12-13 use the enhanced for loop to walk through the array and calculate the total of the doubles in the array. Line 15 accesses numbers.length to obtain the size of the numbers array for use in the averaging calculation. Lines 29, 31 and 33 in main call method average with two, three and four arguments, respectively. Method average has a variable-length argument list, so it can average as many double arguments as the caller passes. The output reveals that each call to method average returns the correct value.

Fig. 7.20 Using variable-length argument lists.
   1  // Fig. 7.20:
2 // Using variable-length argument lists.
   4 public class VarargsTest
   5 {
   6    // calculate average
   7 public static double average( double... numbers )
   8 {
   9 double total = 0.0; // initialize total
  11 // calculate total using the enhanced for statement
  12 for ( double d : numbers )
  13 total += d;
  15 return total / numbers.length;
  16 } // end method average
  18 public static void main( String args[] )
  19 {
  20 double d1 = 10.0;
  21 double d2 = 20.0;
  22 double d3 = 30.0;
  23 double d4 = 40.0;
  25 System.out.printf( "d1 = %.1f\nd2 = %.1f\nd3 = %.1f\nd4 = %.1f\n\n",
  26 d1, d2, d3, d4 );
  28 System.out.printf( "Average of d1 and d2 is %.1f\n",
  29 average( d1, d2 ) );
  30 System.out.printf( "Average of d1, d2 and d3 is %.1f\n",
  31 average( d1, d2, d3 ) );
  32 System.out.printf( "Average of d1, d2, d3 and d4 is %.1f\n",
  33 average( d1, d2, d3, d4 ) );
  34 } // end main
  35 } // end class VarargsTest
d1 = 10.0
d2 = 20.0
d3 = 30.0
d4 = 40.0

Average of d1 and d2 is 15.0
Average of d1, d2 and d3 is 20.0
Average of d1, d2, d3 and d4 is 25.0

Common Programming Error 7.6
Placing an ellipsis in the middle of a method parameter list is a syntax error. An ellipsis may be placed only at the end of the parameter list.