Exceptional Handling in Java

When an error occurs within a method, the method creates an object and hands it off to the runtime system. The object, called an exception object, contains information about the error, including its type and the state of the program when the error occurred. Creating an exception object and handing it to the runtime system is called throwing an exception.

There are three exception handler components — the try, catch, and finally blocks — to write an exception handler. The last part of this section walks through an example and analyzes what occurs during various scenarios.

The following example defines and implements a class named ListOfNumbers. When constructed, ListOfNumbers creates an ArrayList that contains 10 Integer elements with sequential values 0 through 9. The ListOfNumbers class also defines a method named writeList, which writes the list of numbers into a text file called OutFile.txt. This example uses output classes defined in java.io, which are covered in Basic I/O.

import java.io.*;
import java.util.List;
import java.util.ArrayList;

public class ListOfNumbers {

    private List list;
    private static final int SIZE = 10;

    public ListOfNumbers () {
        list = new ArrayList(SIZE);
        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            list.add(new Integer(i));

    public void writeList() {
	// The FileWriter constructor throws IOException, which must be caught.
        PrintWriter out = new PrintWriter(new FileWriter("OutFile.txt"));

        for (int i = 0; i < SIZE; i++) {
            // The get(int) method throws IndexOutOfBoundsException, which must be caught.
            out.println("Value at: " + i + " = " + list.get(i));

The first line in boldface is a call to a constructor. The constructor initializes an output stream on a file. If the file cannot be opened, the constructor throws an IOException. The second boldface line is a call to the ArrayList class's get method, which throws an IndexOutOfBoundsException if the value of its argument is too small (less than 0) or too large (more than the number of elements currently contained by the ArrayList).

If you try to compile the ListOfNumbers class, the compiler prints an error message about the exception thrown by the FileWriter constructor. However, it does not display an error message about the exception thrown by get. The reason is that the exception thrown by the constructor, IOException, is a checked exception, and the one thrown by the get method, IndexOutOfBoundsException, is an unchecked exception.

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