Peiska Peiska - 1 month ago 6
Java Question

What does the "assert" keyword do?

What does

assert
do?
For example in the function:

private static int charAt(String s, int d) {
assert d >= 0 && d <= s.length();
if (d == s.length()) return -1;
return s.charAt(d);
}

Answer

If you launch your program with -enableassertions (or -ea for short) then this statement

assert cond;

is equivalent to

if (!cond)
    throw new AssertionError();

If you launch your program without this option, the assert statement will have no effect.

For example, assert d >= 0 && d <= s.length();, as posted in your question, is equivalent to

if (!(d >= 0 && d <= s.length()))
    throw new AssertionError();

(If you launched with -enableassertions that is.)


Formally, the Java Language Specification: 14.10. The assert Statement says the following:

14.10. The assert Statement
An assertion is an assert statement containing a boolean expression. An assertion is either enabled or disabled. If the assertion is enabled, execution of the assertion causes evaluation of the boolean expression and an error is reported if the expression evaluates to false. If the assertion is disabled, execution of the assertion has no effect whatsoever.

Where "enabled or disabled" is controlled with the -ea switch and "An error is reported" means that an AssertionError is thrown.


And finally, a lesser known feature of assert:

You can append : "Error message" like this:

assert d != null : "d is null";

to specify what the error message of the thrown AssertionError should be.


This post has been rewritten as an article here.