Understanding Method Overloading in Java, With Examples

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Understanding Method Overloading in Java, With Examples

Key Points

  • Method overloading in Java allows for better organization within a program and makes it easier to interface with existing parts.
  • Method overloading is when multiple methods in a class have the same name but different numbers/types of parameters.
  • You can overload methods by changing the number of arguments, the data types of the arguments, or the order of the arguments.

Method overloading in Java is among the essential concepts to master if you are trying to learn this programming language. Generally speaking, it allows for better organization within a program. It can also make it more convenient for you to build on the program by making it easier to interface with existing parts.

In today’s article, we’re breaking down method overloading in Java and offering up a few examples to show you exactly how it works. We’ll also go over a few helpful tips and tricks, and important points you should know. Let’s get into it!

What Is Method Overloading in Java?

Method overloading is when multiple methods in a class have the same name but different numbers/types of parameters. This can prove especially helpful when you have methods that perform similar tasks but require different inputs.

Why Is it Useful?

To understand why method overloading is useful, we’ll have to explore a few examples. Let’s take a look at the code for a class called Rectangle:

public class Rectangle {
    public double calculateAreaDifferentSides(int length, int width) {
        return length * width;

    public double calculateAreaSameSides(int side) {
        return side * side;

In the class, we have two methods: calculateAreaSameSides for when the rectangle is a square and will have sides that are the same length, and calculateAreaDifferentSides for when it is not.

As can be seen, both of them are calculating the area, but the former only needs one input, while the latter needs two. When a situation like this occurs, method overloading comes in handy. We can instead write:

public class Rectangle {
    public double calculateArea(int length, int width) {
        return length * width;

    public double calculateArea(int side) {
        return side * side;

Ways You Can Overload Methods

Method overloading can be achieved by changing the number of parameters or arguments, the data types of the arguments, or the order of the arguments. Let’s take a peek at a few examples to show you the differences in each technique.

Changing the Number of Arguments

Methods can be overloaded by adding or subtracting from the number of arguments. Here’s an example:

public class ChangeArgNumber {
    public void display(int number) {
        System.out.println("Number: " + number);

    public void display(int number1, int number2) {
        System.out.println("Number 1: " + number1);
        System.out.println("Number 2: " + number2);

Since the number of arguments is different, Java will know which method you are using depending on how many arguments are inputted.

Changing the Types of Arguments

It is also possible to overload methods by changing the data types of the arguments, like so:

public class ChangeArgTypes {
    public void display(int number) {
        System.out.println("Integer: " + number);

    public void display(double number) {
        System.out.println("Double: " + number);

When using this method, Java will determine the correct one based on the type of argument inputted.

Changing the Order of Arguments

You do not necessarily have to change the number of arguments or their types to overload a method. You can also reorder the arguments. Here’s an example:

public class ChangeArgOrder {
    public void display(int number1, double number2) {
        System.out.println("Integer: " + number1);
        System.out.println("Double: " + number2);

    public void display(double number1, int number2) {
        System.out.println("Double: " + number1);
        System.out.println("Integer: " + number2);

Although both methods take in a double and an integer, Java will know which one to use based on the order you input them when calling the method.

Can You Change the Return Type?

Sure, you can change the return type when overloading a method. But the return type does not necessarily matter, and won’t overload the method. In fact, Java will give an error when compiling. But why?

Java cannot differentiate methods based on the return type only. This makes sense, as when you are calling a method, only the arguments you pass can vary.

When Could You Use Method Overloading in Java?

So, now that you have a grasp on how method overloading works, when would you put it to use in Java? There are a few times it can come in handy.


Method overloading can be used to make classes more convenient. Here’s an example:

public class Converter {
    public int convertToInteger(String number) {
        return Integer.parseInt(number);

    public int convertToInteger(double number) {
        return (int) number;

In this class, there is a method convertToInteger that takes in an argument and returns an integer equivalent. There may be multiple situations in which you want to convert something to an integer, but they may not always be the same type.

To save you the trouble of figuring out how to convert it every time, you can just overload a method that takes care of those details for you.


When writing a method that performs some kind of calculation, you may not know if you’ll be dealing with integers, floating point numbers, or some other type.

When performing a task with these methods, you don’t want to have to convert the numbers beforehand, so you could write a method like this: 

public class MathUtils {
    public int add(int a, int b) {
        return a + b;

    public double add(double a, double b) {
        return a + b;

Although it’s unnecessary to write a method for adding in Java, this illustrates the point. No matter if you’re dealing with integers or doubles, you can use the add method.

method overloading in java
In the above example, the add method is overloaded three times: first with two integer parameters, second with three integer parameters, and finally with two double parameters.


Method Overloading in Java: Wrapping Up

While it may not always be needed, method overloading is an important concept for a Java developer to understand. It is just one more thing you can add to your coding toolbox to make your code easier to read and maintain. Now, let’s address some commonly asked questions about method overloading.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is method overloading in Java?

Method overloading in Java is a feature that allows a class to have more than one method with the same name, but with different parameters. These parameters can differ in data type, sequence, or quantity.

Is it possible to overload a method by changing the return type in Java?

No, changing just the return type of a method in Java will not overload it. Java’s compiler differentiates between overloaded methods based on the parameters, specifically their number, order, and type. It doesn’t consider the return type while overloading.

Can constructors be overloaded in Java?

Yes, constructors can be overloaded in Java. This means that you can define multiple constructors for a single class, each with a different parameter list. Your compiler uses the number, order, and type of parameters to differentiate between the constructors.

Does Java support operator overloading?

No, Java does not support operator overloading. In Java, only method overloading is supported, unlike languages such as C++ and Haskell. Since operator overloading means you can alter the typical semantics of an operator, the developers of Java decided it was best to leave it out.

Is it possible to overload Java main method?

Yes, the main method in Java can be overloaded by providing different parameter lists. However, the JVM, or Java Virtual Machine (what compiles the Java code), calls only the original main method- the one with a single argument of type String array.

Can you overload methods that differ only by static keyword?

No, methods that differ only by the static keyword cannot be overloaded because static is not part of the method signature in Java. Therefore, declaring one method as static and another one as non-static will not overload the methods in Java.

Can you overload methods in different classes?

No, you can’t. Method overloading is a concept that applies only within the same class or a subclass. If two methods with the same name exist in two different classes that aren’t related through inheritance, they are not considered overloaded methods.

What is the advantage of method overloading in Java?

The main advantage is that method overloading increases the readability of the program. It provides the flexibility to call a similar operation with different types or numbers of parameters. Plus, it helps to save memory, as you don’t need to create and remember different method names for similar actions.

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