Panthy Panthy - 1 year ago 113
Java Question

Difference between Static methods and Instance methods

I was just reading over the text given to me in my textbook and I'm not really sure I understand what it is saying. It's basically telling me that static methods or class methods include the "modifier" keyword static. But I don't really know what that means?

Could someone please explain to me in really simple terms what Static or Class Methods are?

Also, could I get a simple explanation on what Instance methods are?

This is what they give me in the textbook:

There are important practical implications of the presence or absence of the static modifier. A public class method may be invoked and executed as soon as Java processes the definition of the class to which it belongs. That is not the case for an instance method. Before a public instance method may be invoked and executed, an instance must be created of the class to which it belongs. To use a public class method, you just need the class. On the other hand, before you can use a public instance method you must have an instance of the class.

The manner in which a static method is invoked within the definition of another method varies according to whether or not the two methods belong to the same class. In the example above, factorial and main are both methods of the MainClass class. As a result, the invocation of factorial in the definition of main simply references the method name, "factorial".

Answer Source

The basic paradigm in Java is that you write classes, and that those classes are instantiated. Instantiated objects (an instance of a class) have attributes associated with them (member variables) that affect their behavior; when the instance has its method executed it will refer to these variables.

However, all objects of a particular type might have behavior that is not dependent at all on member variables; these methods are best made static. By being static, no instance of the class is required to run the method.

You can do this to execute a static method:

MyObject.staticMethod();//Simply refers to the class's static code

But to execute a non-static method, you must do this:

MyObject obj = new MyObject();//Create an instance
obj.nonstaticMethod();//Refer to the instance's class's code

On a deeper level, when the compiler puts a class together, it contains several pointers to methods. When those methods are executed it follows the pointers and executes the code at the far end. If a class is instantiated, the created object contains a pointer to the "virtual method table", which points to the methods to be called for that particular class in the inheritance hierarchy. However, if the method is static, no "virtual method table" is needed: all calls to that method go to the exact same place in memory to execute the exact same code. For that reason, in high-performance systems it's better to use a static method if you are not reliant on instance variables.