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Why Java does not support Operator overloading

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Unlike C++, Java doesn’t support operator overloading. Java doesn’t provide freedom to programmers, to overload the standard arithmetic operators e.g. +, -, * and / etc. If you have worked previously in C++, then you know that Java has left a lot of features supported in C++.

e.g. Java doesn’t support multiple inheritances, no pointers in Java, and no pass-by-reference in Java. Rarely is this question asked in Java interviews, to check how a programmer thinks about certain features, which are not supported in Java.

4 Reasons Why Java doesn’t support Operator Overloading

1) Simplicity and Cleanliness

Why operator overloading is not supported in JavaThe simple and clear design was one of the goals of Java designers. They, just don’t want to replicate the language, but wanted to have a clear, truly object-oriented language. Adding Operator overloading would have definitely made the design more complex than without it, and it might have lead to the more complex compiler or slows the JVM because it needs to do extra work to identify the actual meaning of operators and reduce the opportunity to optimize the language by guarantee behavior of operators in Java.

2) Avoid Programming Errors

Java doesn’t allow user-defined operator overloading, because if you allow a programmer to do operator overloading, they will come up with multiple meanings for the same operator, which will make the learning curve of any developer hard and things more confusing and messy.

Its been observed that there is an increase in programming errors when language supports operator overloading, which in turn increases e development and delivery time.

Since Java and JVM have taken most of the developer’s responsibility, in memory management by providing garbage collector, it doesn’t really make sense to left this feature to pollute the code, and as a loop hole for programming errors.

3) JVM Complexity

From the JVM perspective, supporting operator overloading is more difficult, and if the same thing can be achieved, by using method overloading in a more intuitive and clean way, it does make sense to not support operator overloading in Java.

A complex JVM, may result in a slower JVM, than a relatively simpler JVM, and reduce the opportunity of optimization by taking out guaranteed behavior of operators in Java.

4) Easy Development of Tools

This is an additional benefit of not supporting operator overloading in Java. The omission of operator overloading has kept the language easier to handle and process, which in turn makes it easier to develop the tools, that process the language e.g. IDE or re-factoring tool. Re-factoring tools in Java are far better than C++.

In conclusion, many things, which can be achieved by operator overloading, can also be achieved using method overloading using more intuitive and easy way and that might be the reason java designer thought that supporting operator overloading will not be a big benefit for language, but in fact, only Java designer can answer real motivation of, why Java doesn’t support operator overloading, like some other questions as Why Java doesn’t support multiple inheritances or Why String is immutable in Java.