Dynamic method dispatch or Runtime polymorphism in Java

Java Programming Java8Object Oriented Programming

Runtime Polymorphism in Java is achieved by Method overriding in which a child class overrides a method in its parent. An overridden method is essentially hidden in the parent class, and is not invoked unless the child class uses the super keyword within the overriding method. This method call resolution happens at runtime and is termed as Dynamic method dispatch mechanism.


Let us look at an example.

class Animal {
   public void move() {
      System.out.println("Animals can move");

class Dog extends Animal {
   public void move() {
      System.out.println("Dogs can walk and run");

public class TestDog {

   public static void main(String args[]) {
      Animal a = new Animal(); // Animal reference and object
      Animal b = new Dog(); // Animal reference but Dog object

      a.move(); // runs the method in Animal class
      b.move(); // runs the method in Dog class

This will produce the following result −


Animals can move
Dogs can walk and run

In the above example, you can see that even though b is a type of Animal it runs the move method in the Dog class. The reason for this is: In compile time, the check is made on the reference type. However, in the runtime, JVM figures out the object type and would run the method that belongs to that particular object.

Therefore, in the above example, the program will compile properly since Animal class has the method move. Then, at the runtime, it runs the method specific for that object.

Updated on 21-Jun-2020 13:12:05