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instanceof operator with String

 
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Below is an example from Prof. Khalid's book. I want to know why we get a compile time error when we use instanceof operator with String


class Light { /* ... */ }
class LightBulb extends Light { /* ... */ }
class SpotLightBulb extends LightBulb { /* ... */ }
class TubeLight extends Light { /* ... */ }
class NeonLight extends TubeLight { /* ... */ }

public class WhoAmI {
public static void main(String[] args) {
boolean result1;
Light light1 = new LightBulb();

/*********** THIS IS WHERE I AM CONFUSED ****************/

// why can't an light1 be compared to a String. After all String is
/ a Class
result1 = light1 instanceof String; // (3) Compile time
// error.

}
}
}
 
Greenhorn
Posts: 29
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JLS 15.20.2 Type Comparison Operator instanceof

The type of a RelationalExpression operand of the instanceof operator must be a reference type or the null type; otherwise, a compile-time error occurs. The ReferenceType mentioned after the instanceof operator must denote a reference type; otherwise, a compile-time error occurs.
At run time, the result of the instanceof operator is true if the value of the RelationalExpression is not null and the reference could be cast (�15.16) to the ReferenceType without raising a ClassCastException. Otherwise the result is false.

If a cast of the RelationalExpression to the ReferenceType would be rejected as a compile-time error, then the instanceof relational expression likewise produces a compile-time error. In such a situation, the result of the instanceof expression could never be true.

Consider the example program:



This example results in two compile-time errors. The cast (Point)e is incorrect because no instance of Element or any of its possible subclasses (none are shown here) could possibly be an instance of any subclass of Point. The instanceof expression is incorrect for exactly the same reason. If, on the other hand, the class Point were a subclass of Element (an admittedly strange notion in this example):

class Point extends Element { int x, y; }

then the cast would be possible, though it would require a run-time check, and the instanceof expression would then be sensible and valid. The cast (Point)e would never raise an exception because it would not be executed if the value of e could not correctly be cast to type Point.
 
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