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Difference Between Method Overloading and Method Overriding


February 23, 2014 by admin

What is Method Overloading and Overriding in Java – Example Differences Tutorial

What is method overloading and overriding in Java 
Method overloading and method overriding in Java is two important concept in Java which allows Java programmer to declare method with same name but different behavior. Method overloading and method overriding is based on polymorphism in Java. In case of method overloading, method with same name co-exists in same class but they must have different method signature, while in case of method overriding, method with same name is declared in derived class or sub class.Method overloading is resolved using static binding in Java at compile time while method overriding is resolved using dynamic binding in Java at runtime. In short When you overload a method in Java its method signature got changed while in case of overriding method signature remains same but a method can only be overridden in sub class. Since Java supports polymorphism and resolve object at run-time it is capable to call overridden method in Java. By the way difference between method overloading and overriding is also one of the popular Java design question and appear in almost all levels of  Java interviews.

What is method overloading and overriding in Java?

In this Java tutorial we will see how Java allows you to create two methods of same name by using method overloading and method overriding. We will also touch base on how methods are bonded or called by Compiler and Java Virtual Machine and finally we will answer of popular interview questions difference between method overloading and method overriding in Java. This article is in my series of Java article which discusses about Interview e.g. Difference between Synchronized Collection and Concurrent Collection or How to Stop Thread in Java. Please let me know if you have some other interview questions and you are looking answer or reason for that and here in Javarevisited we will try to find and discuss those interview questions.

How to overload a method in Java

If you have two methods with same name in one Java class with different method signature than its called overloaded method in Java. Generally overloaded method in Java has different set of arguments to perform something based on different number of input. You can also overload constructor in Java, which we will see in following example of method overloading in Java. Binding of overloading method occurs during compile time and overloaded calls resolved using static binding. To overload a Java method just changes its signature. Just remember in order to change signature you either need to change number of argument, type of argument or order of argument in Java if they are of different types. Since return type is not part of method signature simply changing return type will result in duplicate method and you will get compile time error in Java. In our example of Loan and PersonalLoan class, createLoan method is overloaded. Since you have two crateLoan() method with one takes one argument lender while other take two argument both lender and interestRate. Remember you can overload static method in Java, you can also overload private and final method in Java but you can not override them.

How to override a method in Java

In order to override a Java method, you need to create a child class which extends parent. Overridden method in Java also shares same name as original method in Java but can only be overridden in sub class. Original method has to be defined inside interface or base class, which can be abstract as well.When you override a method in Java its signature remains exactly same including return type. JVM resolves correct overridden method based upon object at run-time by using dynamic binding in Java. For example in our case when we call personalLoan.toString() method even though personalLoanobject is of type Loan actual method called would be from PersonalLoan class because object referenced by personalLoan variable is of type PersonalLoan(). This is very useful technique to modify behavior of a function in Java based on different implementation. Equals, hashcode and compareTo methodsare classic example of overridden methods in Java.
Another important point is that you can not override static method in Java because they are associated with Class rather than object and resolved and bonded during compile time and that’s the reason you cannot override main method in Java. Similar to static, private and final methods are also not overridden in Java. By the way, as part of overriding best practice, always use @Override annotation, while overriding method from an abstract class or interface.
Rules of Method Overriding in Java
Following are rules of method overriding in java which must be followed while overriding any method. as stated earlier private, static and final method can not be overridden.
  1. Method signature must be same including return type, number of method parameters, type of parameters and order of parameters
  2. Overriding method can not throw higher Exception than original or overridden method. means if original method throws IOException than overriding method can not throw super class of IOException e.g. Exception but it can throw any sub class of IOException or simply does not throw any Exception. This rule only applies to checked Exception in Java, overridden method is free to throw anyunchecked Exception.
  3. Overriding method can not reduce accessibility of overridden method , means if original or overridden method is public than overriding method can not make it protected.

Difference between method overloading vs overriding in Java

Overloading vs Overriding in Java is one of the popular java interview questions at many companies and asked at different levels of programmers. Here are some of the silent difference between overloading and overriding in Java. Though more important is to understand how to use both overloading and overriding, these difference are good from interview perspective and gives some basic idea as well:
1) First and most important difference between method overloading and overriding is that, In case of method overloading in Java, Signature of method changes while in case of method overriding it remain same.
2) Second major difference between method overloading vs overriding in Java is that You can overload method in one class but overriding can only be done on subclass.
3) You can not override staticfinal and private method in Java but you can overload static, final or private method in Java.
4) Overloaded method in Java is bonded by static binding and overridden methods are subject to dynamic binding.
5) Private and final method can also be not overridden in Java.

Exceptions handling while overloading and overriding method in Java

While overriding a method it can only throw checked exception declared by by overridden method or any subclass of it, means if overridden method throws IOExcpetion than overriding method can throw sub classes of IOExcpetion e.g. FileNotFoundException but not wider exception e.g. Exception or Throwable. This restriction is only for checked Exception for RuntimeException you can throw any RuntimeException. Overloaded method in Java doesn’t have such restriction and you are free to modify throws clause as per your need.

Example of method overloading and overriding in Java

Here is an example of both method overloading and method overriding in Java. In order to explain the concept we have create two classes Loan and PersonalLoan. createLoan() method is overloaded as it has different version with different signature, while toString() method which is original declared in Object class is overridden in both Loan andPersonalLoan class.

public class OverloadingOverridingTest {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Example of method overloading in Java
        Loan cheapLoan = Loan.createLoan(“HSBC”);
        Loan veryCheapLoan = Loan.createLoan(“Citibank”);
        // Example of method overriding in Java
        Loan personalLoan = new PersonalLoan();
public class Loan {
    private double interestRate;
    private String customer;
    private String lender;
    public static Loan createLoan(String lender) {
        Loan loan = new Loan();
        loan.lender = lender;
        return loan;
    public static Loan createLoan(String lender, double interestRate) {
        Loan loan = new Loan();
        loan.lender = lender;
        loan.interestRate = interestRate;
        return loan;
    public String toString() {
        return “This is Loan by Citibank”;
public class PersonalLoan extends Loan {
    public String toString() {
        return “This is Personal Loan by Citibank”;
1) In case of method overloading method signature gets changed while in case of overriding signature remains same.
2) Return type is not part of method signature in Java.
3) Overloaded method can be subject to compile time binding but overridden method can only be bind at run-time.
4) Both overloaded and overridden method has same name in Java.
5) Static method can not be overridden in Java.
6) Since private method is also not visible outside of class, it can not be overridden and method binding happens during compile time.
7) From Java5 onwards you can use annotation in Java to declare overridden method just like we did with @override. @override annotation allows compiler, IDE like NetBeans and Eclipse to cross verify or check if this method is really overrides super class method or not.Update: One of my reader Rajeev makes an interesting comment about one change related to return type of overriding method from Java 5 onwards, which enable to use subtype of return type of overridden method. This is really useful, when original method returns a general type like java.lang.Object. If you are overriding clone() method in Java then you can use this feature to return actual type, instead of returning java.lang.Object and can save caller from type-casting cloned object.  Here is the actual comment from Rajeev:

Hi Javin,I visit your blog regularly and I found that you missed covariant return which is added in Java 5 in the case of method overriding. When a subclass wants to change the method implementation of an inherited method (an override), the subclass must define a method that matches the inherited version exactly. Or, as of Java 5, you’re allowed to change the return type in the overriding method as long as the new return type is a subtype of the declared return type of the overridden (super class) method. Let’s look at a covariant return in action:

class Alpha {
    Alpha doStuff(char c) {
        return new Alpha();
class Beta extends Alpha {
    Beta doStuff(char c) { // legal override in Java 1.5
        return new Beta();
AS  I said one of the good example of this is overriding clone method and using return type as Actual type instead of java.lang.Object, which is suggested by Joshua Bloch in Effective Java as well. This in in-fact one of the Java best practices while implementing clone method in Java. By the way don’t forget to follow these Java overloading best practices, when doing it in your project.



Difference Between Method Overloading and Method Overriding

Method Overloading
Method Overriding
In Method Overloading, Methods of the same class shares the same name but each method must have different number of parameters or parameters having different types and order. In Method Overriding, sub class have the same method with same name and exactly the same number and type of parameters and same return type as a super class.
Method Overloading means more than one method shares the same name in the class but having different signature. Method Overriding means method of base class is re-defined in the derived class having same signature.
Method Overloading is to “add” or “extend” more to method’s behavior. Method Overriding is to “Change” existing behavior of method.
Overloading and Overriding is a kind of polymorphism.Polymorphism means “one name, many forms”.
It is a compile time polymorphism. It is a run time polymorphism.
Inheritance It may or may not need inheritance in Method Overloading. It always requires inheritance in Method Overriding.
Signature In Method Overloading, methods must havedifferent signature. In Method Overriding, methods must have same signature.
Relationship of Methods In Method Overloading, relationship is there between methods of same class. In Method Overriding, relationship is there between methods of super class and sub class.
In Method Overloading, methods have same name different signatures but in the same class. In Method Overriding, methods have same name and same signature but in the different class.
No. of Classes
Method Overloading does not require more than one class for overloading. Method Overriding requires at least two classes for overriding.
Class Add
   int sum(int a, int b)
     return a + b;
  int sum(int a)
    return a + 10;
Class A  // Super Class
  void display(int num)
     print num ;
//Class B inherits Class A
Class B //Sub Class
  void display(int num)
     print num ;


  1. Shivaraj says:

    Super Explanation

  2. Gopika says:

    Good information!! Can you please explain more oops concepts ? Then it will be more helpful for beginners. Thanks for your post.

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