Espresso: A Concentrated Introduction to Java

Laboratory: Exceptions

Summary: In this laboratory, you will begin working with exceptions in Java.



Exercise 0: Preparation

For this laboratory, you will use the Code project and the previously defined username.util package.

Don't forget to start Eclipse.

Exercise 1: Exception Basics

In the username.util.IO utility class, you should have a method, readInt, that reads an integer. You should also have written a main class that tests that method.

a. Remove the throws Exception from the main method and determine what, if any, error messages you get. If Eclipse permits you to do so, try running the program.

After you finish exploring the effects of that removal, reinsert the throws warning.

b. Remove the throws Exception from the definition of readInt and determine what, if any, error messages you get. If Eclipse permits you to do so, try running the program with that warning removed.

Do not reinsert the warning.

c. Within readInt, you should have a sequence of lines (or perhaps a single line) that does something like the following:

  String str = br.readLine();
  return Integer.parseInt(str);

Enclose those lines in a try/catch clause that returns 0 if an exception is thrown, as in

  try {
    String str = br.readLine();
    return Integer.parseInt(str);
  catch (Exception e) {
    return 0;

Verify that Eclipse is no longer concerned about errors in your code.

Determine what happens when the user enters an invalid value (such as Hello) in response to a request for an integer.

Exercise 2: Computing A Quadratic Root

a. Within username.util.MyMath, write a smallQuadraticRoot(double a, double b, double c) method that computes the smaller of the two roots of a quadratic.

Note that you can use the following formula to compute that root:

(-b - sqrt(b2 - 4ac))/2a

You will, of course, have to translate that mathematical expression i into Java code.

b. Write a main class, TestQR, that computes the roots for a variety of quadratics. Note that it is easiest if you choose quadratics for which you know the solution. For example,

c. Extend TestQR to verify that each result is, in fact, a root of the corresponding function. That is, you should confirm that a*root*root + b*root + c is about 0.

Exercise 3: Adding User Input

a. Write a new main class, QR, which

b. Use your class to compute a root of x2-x-2. Note that the roots of that quadratic are 2 and -1.

Exercise 4: Erroneous Input

a. Determine what happens if the user enters 0 for the coefficient of x2.

b. Determine what happens if user enters values for which there is no real root.

c. Determine what happens if the user enters values for which the function has only one root (e.g., x2-2x+1 has only one root)?

Exercise 5: Indicating Potential Errors

a. Extend smallerQuadraticRoot to indicate that it may throw an exception. Note that you'll need to change the method head for smallerQuadraticRoot to something like the following

public static double smallerQuadraticRoot(double a, double b, double c)
  throws Exception

b. Can you successfully compile your modified code? If not, make any changes necessary to permit you to compile it.

c. Can you successfully compile QR? If not, get help from a tutor or faculty member.

d. What now happens if you enter the erroneous input described in the previous exercise?

Exercise 6: Throwing Exceptions

a. Extend smallerQuadraticRoot so that it throws an exception if a is 0. For example,

if (a == 0) {
  throw new Exception("Cannot compute quadratic roots of linear functions.");

b. Extend smallerQuadraticRoot so that it throws an exception if the root is not real (i.e., if it has an imaginary component). Note that the root is not real if the thing you're taking a square root of is negative.

c. What now happens if you enter the erroneous input described above?

Exercise 7: Catching Exceptions

If you've written your main method using the template presented earlier, you have the line throws Exception in the head of that method. Remove that line.

a. What effect do you expect removing that line will have?

b. Verify your answer experimentally. Ask a tutor or teacher if you don't understand the results of your experiment.

c. Enclose your call to smallerQuadraticRoot in a try/catch block. For example,

try {
  double root = f.smallerQuadraticRoot(a,b,c);
  pen.println("The smaller root of the polynomial is: " + root);
  pen.println("Experimentally, " + a + "*" + root + "*" + root"
  	+ "+" + b + "*" + root + "+" + c + " = " 
   + (a*root*root + b*root + c));
catch (Exception e) {
  pen.println("Sorry, I could not compute a root.");

d. Determine what happens with the problematic inputs described above.

Exercise 8: Specific Exceptions

a. Update smallerQuadraticRoot so that it tries to throw a DivideByZeroException if the coefficient of the quadratic term is 0. You can still throw a generic exception if the result includes an imaginary component.

b. What do you expect to happen when you try to compile the revised program?

c. Verify your answer experimentally.

Exercise 9: Your Own Exceptions

As you should have determined in the previous exercise, Java does not know by default what a DivideByZeroException is. Hence, you'll need to create your own Exception. You do so using the template for user-defined exceptions.

a. Create and compile a Java file for DivideByZeroException. That is, begin with the template, replace the package name by your current package name, replace YourException by DivideByZeroException, and fill in the default message.

b. Verify that the previously-modified code now works.

Exercise 10: Catching Specific Exceptions

a. Extend QR so that it has a catch clause for your new DivideByZeroException before the catch clause for the generic Exception. For example,

try {
catch (DivideByZeroException dbze) {
  pen.println("Cannot compute a result because the coefficient of the quadratic term is 0.");
catch (Exception e) {

b. Determine what happens in each of the problematic cases.

c. What do your results for this problem suggest?


Tuesday, 22 February 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Wednesday, 21 September 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Friday, 23 September 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Wednesday, 15 February 2006 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

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Samuel A. Rebelsky