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Aggregation Vs Composition Java: Java Explained

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Java is a popular programming language used by developers around the world to create software applications, web services, and other types of applications. Many programmers use the Object-Oriented (OO) approach when designing their projects in Java, which focuses on making the code easier to read and maintain. As part of this approach, developers typically use two design techniques: aggregation and composition. In this article, we will explore the differences between aggregation and composition in Java, discuss the advantages of using them, provide some common use cases, and provide tips on how to use them when developing software in Java.

What is Aggregation in Java?

Aggregation, sometimes referred to as “has a” relationship, is when one object contains a reference to another object as part of its structure. In other words, one object owns or has a relationship with another object. This is a loose coupling between two objects. For example, a Student object might have a reference to a Course object, representing the courses the student is enrolled in. The Student object does not own the Course object, but it does reference it.

Aggregation is a type of composition, which is a special type of association. It is a more specialized version of the association relationship. In aggregation, the objects are related by a “has a” relationship, meaning that one object has a reference to another object. This relationship is weaker than composition, as the object does not own the other object. The object can exist without the other object, and the other object can exist without the first object.

What is Composition in Java?

Composition, sometimes referred to as “contains a” relationship, is when one object contains another object as part of its structure. This is a stronger relationship than aggregation, because it implies ownership. To continue with the Student/Course example, a Student object could also contain a Course object, representing the course the student is currently taking. In this case, the Student object owns the Course object. When the Student object is deleted, the Course object will also be deleted automatically.

Composition is a powerful tool for creating complex objects in Java. By combining multiple objects into a single object, developers can create complex objects with a single line of code. This makes it easier to maintain and debug code, as well as making it easier to create objects that are more complex than a single object. Composition is also useful for creating objects that can be reused in multiple applications, as the same objects can be used in multiple applications without having to create a new object for each application.

Advantages of Aggregation and Composition in Java

Both aggregation and composition have advantages in the context of Java programming. The most important benefit of aggregation is that it allows for loose coupling between objects, which can give code more flexibility and allow for better scalability. Composition allows for greater control over how objects are managed. In particular, composition allows for more efficient use of resources because objects can be deleted together when no longer needed.

In addition, composition allows for better encapsulation of data, as objects can be grouped together and their data can be hidden from other objects. This can help to ensure that data is not accessed or modified in an unintended way. Furthermore, composition can help to reduce the complexity of code, as it allows for the creation of complex objects from simpler ones.

Common Use Cases for Aggregation and Composition in Java

Aggregation and composition are used very commonly in Java programming. Common scenarios include referencing collections of objects from another class (such as an ArrayList or Set), referencing an individual object from another class (such as a Student or Course), and using composition to create data structures that contain other data structures (such as a BST or tree). Aggregation is also often used to represent relationships between objects, such as parent-child relationships.

Aggregation and composition can also be used to create more complex data structures, such as linked lists, stacks, and queues. These data structures can be used to store and manipulate data in a more efficient manner. Additionally, aggregation and composition can be used to create more complex algorithms, such as sorting algorithms, that can be used to process data more quickly and accurately.

Examples of Aggregation and Composition in Java Code

To better understand aggregation and composition in Java, let’s look at few simple examples of how they are used in code. Suppose we have a Student class with an associated Course class that holds information about a course the student is taking:

public class Student{    private String name;    private Course course;    public Student(String name){        this.name = name;     }    public void setCourse(Course course){        this.course = course;    }    public String getName(){        return name;     }    public Course getCourse(){        return course;     }}

The Student class has an aggregation relationship with the Course class because it contains a reference to an instance of the Course class. It does not own the Course class; it just references it.

public class Course{    private String name;    private int numberOfCredits;    public Course(String name, int numberOfCredits){        this.name = name;         this.numberOfCredits = numberOfCredits;     }    public String getName(){        return name;     }    public int getNumberOfCredits(){        return numberOfCredits;     }} 

Now, let’s look at an example of composition in Java. In this example, we will create a CourseList class, which contains a list of Course objects:

public class CourseList{    private List courses;     public CourseList(){        courses = new ArrayList<>();     }    public void addCourse(Course course){        courses.add(course);     }    public List getCourses(){        return courses;     }  } 

The CourseList class has a composition relationship with each individual Course object contained within it. It owns the Course objects since they get deleted when the CourseList is deleted.

Tips for Using Aggregation and Composition in Java

When using aggregation and composition in Java, it is important to consider the type of relationship that you need for your application. Aggregation should be used when you need a loose coupling between two objects and composition should be used when you need stronger ownership between two objects. It is also important to think about performance when using aggregation and composition. If you are dealing with large amounts of data, it may be better to use composition instead of aggregation since it will reduce the amount of processing needed to delete objects when they are no longer needed.

Conclusion

Aggregation and composition are important concepts to understand when programming in Java. They allow for flexibility and efficient use of resources in your code. By understanding when and how to use aggregation and composition in your code, you can improve your overall design and make your code more maintainable.

Anand Das

Anand Das

Anand is Co-founder and CTO of Bito. He leads technical strategy and engineering, and is our biggest user! Formerly, Anand was CTO of Eyeota, a data company acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. He is co-founder of PubMatic, where he led the building of an ad exchange system that handles over 1 Trillion bids per day.

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