How to Compare Integer Values in Java

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  • 0:00 Comparing Integers
  • 1:31 If/Then/Else Statements
  • 2:10 Comparing the Methods
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

In this lesson, we will discuss methods for comparing integers in Java. Some working code examples will be provided to help explain how a comparison of integers can be accomplished.

Comparing Integers

When comparing two integer values, Java provides a couple options. In Java, all primitive data types (such as int, float, double, and byte) have individual wrapper classes. Integer is a wrapper class of int, and it provides several methods and variables you can use in your code to work with integer variables. One of the methods is the compareTo() method. It is used to compare two integer values. It will return a -1, 0, or 1, depending on the result of the comparison. The compareTo() method will return the following values:

  • -1: Object 1 is less than Object 2
  • 0: Object 1 equals Object 2
  • 1: Object 1 is greater than Object 2

In order to use compareTo(), you need to create a new instance of an Integer class. In our first example, we will give the new class a specific value, but you could also pass in another integer variable. Therefore, you are creating an instance of an Integer. Instead of an integer (lower-case) value of 10, a whole new Integer object is created, with a value of 10, like this:

Java integer compareTo

The variables value1 and value2 are instance variables because they represent instances of the Integer class. This lets us perform the compareTo() method upon them. Since 10 is less than 20, we would expect the return value to be -1. When we run the code, that proves to be the case, as we see here:

Java comperTo output

If/Then/Else Statements

Because Java is an object-oriented language, we tend to gravitate towards methods that support objects and classes. Therefore, we use the Integer class and its methods to compare integers. But there is still a tried-and-true method for comparing integers: the good old if/then/else statements.

In the next code sample, we'll declare a couple of integers and check if they are equal, less than, or greater than each other. While we miss out on the standard function of compareTo(), we can define our own method for handling the comparison.

Recall that Java comparison operators look like this:

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