Overriding equals method in Java
Consider the following Java program:
The reason for printing “Not Equal” is simple: when we compare c1 and c2, it is checked whether both c1 and c2 refer to same object or not (object variables are always references in Java). c1 and c2 refer to two different objects, hence the value (c1 == c2) is false. If we create another reference say c3 like following, then (c1 == c3) will give true.
So, how do we check for equality of values inside the objects? All classes in Java inherit from the Object class, directly or indirectly (See point 1 of this). The Object class has some basic methods like clone(), toString(), equals(),.. etc. We can override the equals method in our class to check whether two objects have same data or not.
As a side note, when we override equals(), it is recommended to also override the hashCode() method. If we don’t do so, equal objects may get different hash-values; and hash based collections, including HashMap, HashSet, and Hashtable do not work properly (see this for more details). We will be covering more about hashCode() in a separate post.
Effective Java Second Edition
Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.