What is the contract between equals() and hashCode() methods in Java?

JavaObject Oriented ProgrammingProgramming

Every Java object has two very important methods equals() and hashCode() and these methods are designed to be overridden according to their specific general contract. An Object class is the parent class of every class, the default implementation of these two methods is already present in each class. However, we can override these methods based on the requirement.

hashCode() Method

public int hashCode()

This method returns an integer value, which is referred to as the hash code value of an object. Every Object, at the time of creation assigned with a unique 32-bit, signed int value. This value is the hash code value of that object.

General contract associated with hashCode() method

  • The hashCode() method should return the same integer value for the same object for each calling of this method unless the value stored in the object is modified.
  • If two objects are equal(according to equals() method) then the hashCode() method should return the same integer value for both the objects.
  • But, it is not necessary that the hashCode() method will return the distinct result for the objects that are not equal (according to equals() method).

equals() Method

public boolean equals(Object obj)

The equals() method of Object class checks the equality of the objects and accordingly it returns true or false. The default implementation, as provided by Object class, checks the equality of the objects on the basis if both references refer to the same object. It does not check the value or state of the objects. But we can override this method to provide own implementation to compare the state or value of the objects.

General contract associated with equals() method

For any non-null reference variables a, b and c

  • a.equals(a) should always return true.
  • a.equals(b) should return true if and only if b.equals(a) returns true.
  • If a.equals(b) returns true and b.equals(c) returns true then a.equals(c) should return true.
  • Multiple calling of a.equals(b) should consistently return true or consistently return false If the value of the object is not modified for either object.
  • a.equals(null) should return false.

So it is necessary to override the hashCode() method of Object class if we are overriding the equals() method.


 Live Demo

public class MainClass {
   public static void main(String[] args) {
      MainClass mainClass = new MainClass();
      TestClass obj1 = new TestClass(1);
      TestClass obj2 = new TestClass(1);
      mainClass.test1(obj1, obj2);
      TestClass obj3 = new TestClass(1);
      TestClass obj4 = new TestClass(2);
      mainClass.test2(obj3, obj4);
   public void test1(TestClass obj1, TestClass obj2) {
      if (obj1.equals(obj2)) {
         System.out.println("Object One and Object Two are equal");
      else {
         System.out.println("Object One and Object Two are not equal");
   public void test2(TestClass obj3, TestClass obj4) {
      if (obj3.equals(obj4)) {
         System.out.println("Object Three and Object Four are equal");
      else {
         System.out.println("Object Three and Object Four are not equal");
class TestClass {
   private int val;
   TestClass(int val) {
      this.val = val;
   public int getValue() {
      return val;
   public boolean equals(Object o) {
      // null check
      if (o == null) {
         return false;
      // this instance check
      if (this == o) {
         return true;
      // instanceof Check and actual value check
      if ((o instanceof TestClass) && (((TestClass) o).getValue() == this.val)) {
         return true;
       else {
         return false;
   public int hashCode() {
      int result = 0;
      result = (int) (val / 11);
      return result;


Object One and Object Two are equal
Object Three and Object Four are not equal
Updated on 06-Feb-2020 11:44:53