Java Generics - Methods


You can write a single generic method declaration that can be called with arguments of different types. Based on the types of the arguments passed to the generic method, the compiler handles each method call appropriately. Following are the rules to define Generic Methods −

  • All generic method declarations have a type parameter section delimited by angle brackets (< and >) that precedes the method's return type ( < E > in the next example).

  • Each type parameter section contains one or more type parameters separated by commas. A type parameter, also known as a type variable, is an identifier that specifies a generic type name.

  • The type parameters can be used to declare the return type and act as placeholders for the types of the arguments passed to the generic method, which are known as actual type arguments.

  • A generic method's body is declared like that of any other method. Note that type parameters can represent only reference types, not primitive types (like int, double and char).


Following example illustrates how we can print an array of different type using a single Generic method −

public class GenericMethodTest {
   // generic method printArray
   public static < E > void printArray( E[] inputArray ) {
      // Display array elements
      for(E element : inputArray) {
         System.out.printf("%s ", element);

   public static void main(String args[]) {
      // Create arrays of Integer, Double and Character
      Integer[] intArray = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 };
      Double[] doubleArray = { 1.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.4 };
      Character[] charArray = { 'H', 'E', 'L', 'L', 'O' };

      System.out.println("Array integerArray contains:");
      printArray(intArray);   // pass an Integer array

      System.out.println("\nArray doubleArray contains:");
      printArray(doubleArray);   // pass a Double array

      System.out.println("\nArray characterArray contains:");
      printArray(charArray);   // pass a Character array

This will produce the following result −


Array integerArray contains:
1 2 3 4 5 

Array doubleArray contains:
1.1 2.2 3.3 4.4 

Array characterArray contains: