Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why Java is so damned lame, part exp(I*M_PI)

Gah. Back when I used to work for Oxford University, I had to do the occasional bit of Java programming for a WebObjects app. Being quite a bit more familiar with ObjC than with Java, I always found this a bit of a headache...partly the way Java Foundation is semi-bridged with the "real" Java API meant I was constantly referring to my Tiger book (Java in a Nutshell, not Mac OS X Tiger), and partly because ironically Java required a lot more mystical casting voodoo than ObjC...seriously, if I never see the phrase Session session=(Session)session() again, I'll be a happy man.

Today's "gah, why can't Java be as easy as ObjC" moment came courtesy of an algorithmic problem I was attacking at TopCoder, just for the hell of it. Problem is, to get to their problem definitions you have to use their applet thingy, and while I'm there I decided that I may as well type the code into their thingy after all Java's not that bad is it? [They also accept VB, C# and C++ but my recollection of the C++ class syntax is slim and my knowledge of the STL is slimmer...I do know enough to try and avoid it though] So I think their problem definitions are proprietary, but suffice to say I wanted the ability to compare two strings, returning equal if the strings could be made the same by popping any arbitrary number of characters off the front and shifting them onto the back (i.e. treating them like rings of characters).

Well, that's simple isn't it? In ObjC I'd subclass NSString, override isEqual: and Robert is your parent's sibling. I even know how to do that in Java:

class CircularString extends String {
public boolean equals(Object otherObj) {
} You're not allowed to do that, because for some unfathomable reason Gosling and the boys at Oak decided to inflict on us another voodoo This seems to have one purpose in existence: to stop me from subclassing the String class. In the words of Points of View, Why oh why oh why oh why?

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