OOPs concepts – What is Aggregation in java?

Aggregation is a special form of association. It is also a relationship between two classes like association, however its a directional association, which means it is strictly a one way association. It represents a Has-A relationship.

For example consider two classes Student class and Address class. each student must have an address so the relationship between student and address is a Has-A relationship. But if you consider its vice versa then it would not make sense as an Address doesn’t need to have a Student necessarily. Below example shows this theoretical explanation in a sample java program.
Student Has-A Address

class Address
{
   int streetNum;
   String city;
   String state;
   String country;
   Address(int street, String c, String st, String coun)
   {
       this.streetNum=street;
       this.city =c;
       this.state = st;
       this.country = coun;
   }
}
class StudentClass
{
   int rollNum;
   String studentName;
   Address studentAddr; 
   StudentClass(int roll, String name, Address addr){
       this.rollNum=roll;
       this.studentName=name;
       this.studentAddr = addr;
   }
   public static void main(String args[]){
       Address ad = new Address(55, "Agra", "UP", "India");
       StudentClass obj = new StudentClass(123, "Chaitanya", ad);
       System.out.println(obj.rollNum);
       System.out.println(obj.studentName);
       System.out.println(obj.studentAddr.streetNum);
       System.out.println(obj.studentAddr.city);
       System.out.println(obj.studentAddr.state);
       System.out.println(obj.studentAddr.country);
   }
}

Output:

123
Chaitanya
55
Agra
UP
India

The above example shows the Aggregation between Student and Address classes. You can see that in Student class I have used Address class to obtain student address. Its a typical example of Aggregation in Java.

Why we need Aggregation?

To maintain code re-usability. To understand this lets consider the above example again. Suppose there are two other classes College and Staff along with above two classes Student and Address. In order to maintain Student’s address, College Address and Staff’s address we don’t need to use the same code again and again. We just have to use the reference of Address class while defining each of these classes like:

Student Has-A Address (Has-a relationship between student and address)
College Has-A Address (Has-a relationship between college and address)
Staff Has-A Address (Has-a relationship between staff and address)

Hence we can improve code re-usability by using Aggregation relationship.

5 comments… add one

  • Arunkumar February 7, 2014, 9:21 AM

    It says NULL pointer Exception in this line

    System.out.println(obj.studentAddr.streetNum);

    Reply
    • Chaitanya Singh February 7, 2014, 12:54 PM

      Hi ArunKumar,

      Did you copy the code correctly? Please verify it once. The code given in the tutorial is already tested and it is not throwing any error.

      Reply
  • Arunkumar February 7, 2014, 9:36 AM

    This is my program and it shows

    package Second_Java;
    
     class Aggregation_Example {
    	
    	String name;
    	int age;
    
    	public Aggregation_Example(String name,int age)
    	{
    		this.name=name;
    		this.age=age;
    	}
    }
    class Student 
    {
    	Aggregation_Example agrn;
    	String address;
    Student(String address)
    {
    	this.address=address;
    	
    	
    }
    public static void main(String x[])throws Exception
    {
    	Aggregation_Example btn=new Aggregation_Example("arun",23);
    	Student stud=new Student("Chennai");
    	   System.out.println(stud.address);
    	   System.out.println(stud.agrn.age);
    	   System.out.println(stud.agrn.name);
    	
    
    }
    
    }
    Reply
    • Nisha June 5, 2014, 2:11 PM

      Hi Arun,

      It seems like you didnt understood the purpose of aggregation. You havent used it in your program. I have made some changes in your program. Hope it helps..
      public class Aggregation_Example {

      String name;
      int age;
      String addre;

      public Aggregation(String name,int age,String addre)
      {
      this.name=name;
      this.age=age;
      this.addre=addre;//this you should use cos this makes a relationship with your another class
      }
      public static void main(String x[])throws Exception// specify main method in your main class
      {
      Aggregation_Example btn=new Aggregation_Example (“arun”,23,”Chennai”);
      // you should pass btn object which contains address which you can access in Student class
      Student stud=new Student(“10th”,’A’,btn);
      System.out.println(stud.agrn.age);
      System.out.println(stud.agrn.name);
      System.out.println(stud.agrn.addre);
      }
      }
      class Student
      {
      Aggregation_Example agrn;
      String nameClass;
      char c;
      Student(String classWhich,char section,Aggregation_Example address)
      {
      this.nameClass=classWhich;
      this.c=section;
      this.agrn=address; // you havent used in your example which raised a nullpointer exception
      }
      }

      Reply
  • Ilir May 27, 2014, 5:34 PM

    Thanks for the explanation. I am taking the OCA Java SE7 Programmer I exam, and needed to understand aggregation. Now I have an understanding of aggregation. Good example. I didn’t try it out, but I came for understanding the mean of aggregation, which I understand now.

    Reply

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