2 - Language basics  pp. 29-56

Language basics

By Clark S. Lindsey, Johnny S. Tolliver and Thomas Lindblad

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If you buy one of those do-it-yourself furniture kits, the best way to start is to just dump all of those screws, nuts, planks, tools and other odd looking widgets on the floor, group them into piles of similar looking items, and then go read the instructions. Even if you don't know what all of those widgets are for, it helps to pick them up and look them over so that you become familiar with them and can recognize them in the instructions.

So rather than dribbling them out over several chapters, here we dump out most of the basic widgets needed to construct Java programs. The goal is to start to become familiar with Java's symbols, keywords, operators, expressions, and other building blocks of the language with which to construct programs. We provide examples and starter programs (on the Web Course) that allow you to begin to write programs without needing to understand yet all of these language elements at a deep level. You should refer back to this chapter as you proceed and as your understanding of the language increases.

Note that in this chapter we occasionally mention the terms class, method, and object. If you are new to object-oriented programming, do not worry about these terms for now. We discuss them in detail in the following chapters.

We begin with a listing of the basic elements and then outline the structure of a generic program.

David Flanagan, Java in a Nutshell, 4th edn, O'Reilly, 2002
David Goldberg, What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-point Arithmetic, Computing Surveys, March 1991, http://docs.sun.com/source/806-3568/ncg_goldberg.html
Glen McCluskey, Some Things You Should Know about Floating-Point Arithmetic, Java Tech Tips, February 4, 2003, http://java.sun.com/developer/JDCTechTips/2003/tt0204.html#2
James Gosling, Bill Joy, Guy Steele and Gilad Bracha, The Java Language Specification, 2nd edn, Addison-Wesley, 2000. Online version at http://java.sun.com/docs/books/jls/second_edition/html/j.title.doc.html
Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition, API Specification, http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.5/api/
Joseph D. Darcy, What Everybody Using the Java™ Programming Language Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic, Sun Microsystems, JavaOne Conference, 2002, http://servlet.java.sun.com/javaone/sf2002/conf/sessions/display-1079.en.jsp
Ronald Mak, Java Number Cruncher: The Java Programmer's Guide to Numerical Computing, Prentice Hall, 2003
See also Appendices 1 and 2 for tables of language elements and operators. See Appendix 3 for more about floating-point