Why Java Doesn’t Support Operator Overloading?

Unlike C++, Java does not support operator overloading. To overload the standard arithmetic operators e.g. +, -, * and / etc, Java doesn’t provide freedom to programmers.

Java does not support operator overloading because by choice of its developers where they wanted to make it a simple language. Overloading of operator allows you to do something extra than default functionality or expected for. Every operator in java has a good meaning with their arithmetic operation it performs. Java only allows arithmetic operations on the elementary numeric types.

In any case, If you allow a programmer to do operator overloading then they will come up with multiple meanings for the same operator which will make the learning curve of any developer hard and things more messy and confusing. The Java designers wanted to restrict people by using operators in a confusing manner, but it was not worth it. Calling of functions in java is more transparent, just by avoiding operator overloading.

By avoiding operator overloading in java, the implementation and specification become a little simpler.

Java indeed overloads the “+” operator for the type “String”. But operator overloading only permitted to the language designers, and we are not the language designers.

Also Read: Why Java Does Not Support Pointers?


Why No Operator Overloading?

  • Operator overloading in java with an arithmetic operation like +, -, /, * is useful for mathematics which is not only the main objective of Java.
  • For accessing objects in C++ have their own pitfall by operator overloading with []. So using get/set can be considered a win.
  • Operator overloading for pointer increment like ++ can be replaced by .increment() and this is about just as clear, even if verbose.

Operator Overloading in C++

Operator overloading in C++ is the ability to redefine the functionality of the operators. Programming languages like C++ supports operator overloading.

Programmers can redefine or overload most of the built-in operators available in C++. Also, a programmer can use operators with user-defined types.

An overloaded operator has a return type and a parameter list like any other function. Overloaded operators are functions with special names: the keyword “operator” used by the symbol for the operator being defined.

Operator overloading in C++ programming language was never universally thought to be a bad idea. C++ programming language has both stack allocation and heap allocation and programmers must overload their operators to handle all situations and not cause memory leaks. Avoiding operator overloading in java, make the implementation and specification a little simpler. About introducing operator overloading, There has been some debate in the Java community.

Following Points Describe for this Reason

1. Simplicity and Cleanliness

The java designers wanted to make it simple and clear and that was one of the goals of them. Java designers, just don’t want to replicate the language, but wanted to make it clear, truly object-oriented programming language. The design of java would have more complex by adding Operator overloading than without it, and it causes slowness in JVM or might have lead to a more complex compiler.

2. Avoid Programming Errors

Java programming language doesn’t allow user-defined operator overloading, because if any programming language allows the programmer to do operator overloading, then they will have multiple meanings for the same operator, which will make things more confusing and the learning curve of any developer hard.

3. JVM Complexity

Supporting operator overloading is more difficult, and if the same thing can be achieved in java, by using method overloading in a more intuitive and cleaner way, then it does make sense to not support operator overloading, from JVM perspective.

4. Easy Development of Tools

Avoiding operator overloading has made java 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, which is an additional advantage of not supporting operator overloading in Java.

5. Method Overloading

Programmers can use method overloading in java instead of operator overloading to achieve the goal in a simple, error-free, and clear manner.


There are many things which can be achieved via operator overloading can be achieved using method overloading in java using more intuitive and easy way and that might be one of the reasons designers of java thought that supporting the operator overloading will not be a big benefit for java language, but in fact, only the creator of java can answer the reason why Java doesn’t support operator overloading.

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