Java arrays only allow subscripts to range between 0 and N-1 for an array of size N.

The class below aims to remove that constraint by allowing the class user to specify the valid subscripts for a one dimensional array of integers.

public class BoundedIntArray {

 private int[] array;

 // further state required here

 public BoundedIntArray() {…}

 public BoundedIntArray(int high) {…}

 public BoundedIntArray(int low, int high) {…}

 public int length() {…}

 public int getElement(int index) {…}

 public void putElement(int index, int value) {…}

 public void resize(int low, int high) {…}


This is a question I was given in a recent exam. I'm struggling to understand quite what the problem is and what the above class is trying to accomplish.

What's wrong with only being allowed to range between 0 and N-1? Why would you want to exceed the size of the array and go beyond N or <0?

What do low and high refer to?

These are the exam questions:

a). The class needs further private members to identify the upper and lower bounds of the array. Provide appropriate declarations for this state. [4 marks]

b). Supply an implementation of the three constructors for the BoundedIntArray class
[6 marks]

c). Provide an implementation for each method (with appropriate exceptions) for the BoundedIntArray class.
[15 marks]

d). Explain how to generalise this class so that arrays of any type can be used rather than just int’s.
[5 marks]

  • 2
    I see the beginnings of an exam question, but not an actual question. low and high appear to be the lowest and highest numbers that you can pass as an index to getElement and putElement. – Robert Harvey Jul 1 '16 at 20:14
  • @RobertHarvey see update :) – M-R Jul 1 '16 at 20:16
  • 1
    As a guess - it asks to make an "array" whose indexes run from low to high instead of 0 to n. This is probably to calm down all those people who throw tantrums when confronted with the fact that array indexing is 0-based in most (popular) languages. – Ordous Jul 1 '16 at 20:16
  • @Ordous: It's an exam question. It's only purpose is probably to see if you understand how to do it. – Robert Harvey Jul 1 '16 at 20:18

A real world example might be waist sizes. Men's shorts might come in sizes from 28 inches to 50 in 1-inch increments. Instead of everywhere in your program saying, sizes[i + 27] you create an "array" with indicies 28-50 (and thus size=21) and not have to worry about offsets.

BoundedIntArray sizes = new BoundedIntArray(28, 50);

void addToCount(int size) {
    int count = sizes.get(size);
    sizes.set(size, count + 1);

Presumably the BoundedIntArray would allocate an array when it is constructed of a suitable size to never throw an IndexOutOfBoundsException for the defined range.

| improve this answer | |
  • Why is there no size declaration in private int[] array;? – M-R Jul 1 '16 at 20:26
  • @MartinRand That's just Java syntax. If you want an array of 6 items you say private int[] myArray = new int[6]; The size of the array is not part of the type. What you are asking for is called a "dependent type." If you want that, look at Idris. idris-lang.org – GlenPeterson Jul 1 '16 at 20:29
  • If the lower bound is, say, 28, wouldn't we be wasting memory for 0-28, which is declared but not used? – M-R Jul 1 '16 at 20:42

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