Oleksandr Gavenko's blog
2017-01-21 19:30 Java interview questions

Now is time for some Java interview questions.

Fail-fast and fail-safe iterators

Most collection implementation doesn't support modification during looping across interator. It doesn't matter if modification come from same thread or another.

In some cases implementation can detect such situation and throw java.util.ConcurrentModificationException. This is called fail-fast iterator behavior.

From documentation:

Note that fail-fast behavior cannot be guaranteed as it is, generally speaking, impossible to make any hard guarantees in the presence of unsynchronized concurrent modification. Fail-fast operations throw ConcurrentModificationException on a best-effort basis. Therefore, it would be wrong to write a program that depended on this exception for its correctness: ConcurrentModificationException should be used only to detect bugs.

Fail-safe iterators are those that allow modification of collection during looping across iterator. Usually this is done operating on collection copy by iterator. Examples of such collections is java.util.concurrent.ConcurrentHashMap and java.util.concurrent.CopyOnWriteArrayList.

ArrayList vs LinkedList vs Vector

It is typical question on difference between ArrayList, LinkedList, and Vector which implement List interface.

ArrayList and Vector uses arrays in implementation and Vector methods are synchronized. So in single threaded environment there is no need for Vector and ArrayList is preferred.

LinkedList has double linked list underneath hence insertion of element in a middle of the list is cheap operation. For ArrayList and Vector such operation may require coping of many elements. However these classes allow indexed access to elements in constant time, while for LinkedList this means a scan through list up to required index.

char[] or String for password

Best security practice means to remove password from memory as fast as possible whenever password no longer needed.

With String data type it is not possible in any predicable time and portable way because String is immutable type and hide its content from modification for erasing purpose. Garbage collection doesn't erase memory, it only will happen in uncertain time in a future if this area will be used by other class instance.

On other hand char[] data type can be erased easily by:

Arrays.fill(password, '\0');

Why calling abstract methods is dangerous in constructor

Subclass constructor calls superclass constructor before any other instructions. Abstract methods may depends of fields that is not fully populated by subclass constructor.

In following example cache always initialized by 0 during Sub(int value) constructor call:

public abstract Super {
    private int cache;
    public Super() {
        cache = calculate();
    protected abstract int calculate();

public Sub extends Super {
    private int value;
    public Sub(int value) {
        this.value = value;
    protected int calculate() {
        return value;

HashSet vs TreeSet

HashSet have O(1) for add, remove, contains versus O(log(N)) for TreeSet.

But TreeSet has many efficient (O(log(N))) additional methods for queried ranges of elements based on elements order (defined by NavigableSet and SortedSet interfaces).

Why should you override hashCode() when you override equals()?

hashCode() has contract that if:

ob1.equals(ob2) == true


ob1.hashCode() == ob2.hashCode()

Changing default behavior of equals() you may violate this contract.

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