Kotlin Starter Pack

Previous: Ranges

Operator Overloading

Kotlin allows us to overload some operators on any object we have created, or that we know of (through [extensions][]). The concept of [operator overloading][op_overloading] provides a way to invoke functions to perform arithmetic operation, equality checks or comparison on whatever object we want, through symbols like +, -, /, *, %, <, >. But, obviously, those overloading should be defined when it make sense to use them.

For the following parts, let's assume we have the data class:

data class Point(val x: Double, val y: Double)

Arithmetic operators

To overload the + operator we need to implement the function plus, with the keyword operator. This function takes one parameter of any kind, even it make sense in most cases to use the same type.

// Here how to provide `+` operator on our object Point
operator fun plus(p: Point) = Point(this.x + p.x, this.y + p.x)
// return type is inferred to Point

To go further we can apply all the following operator overloading on the object Point.

expressionfunction called
p1 +
p1 - p2p1.minus(p2)
p1 * p2p1.times(p2)
p1 / p2p1.div(p2)
p1 % p2p1.rem(p2)

Here the implementation on our previous data class:

data class Point(val x: Double, val y: Double) {
operator fun plus(p: Point) = Point(x + p.x, y + p.y)
operator fun minus(p: Point) = Point(x - p.x, y - p.y)
operator fun times(p: Point) = Point(x * p.x, y * p.y)
operator fun div(p: Point) = Point(x / p.x, y / p.y)
operator fun inc() = Point(x + 1, y + 1)
operator fun dec() = Point(x - 1, y - 1)
// { autofold

Note that those examples are quiet simple, you may be able to implement more complex operator, depending on your own object's definition.

Equality and inequality

As a Java developer, I always felt confused about equality, sometimes you have to use == / != (on primitives), sometimes you have to use equals(). (reminder, the usage of ==/ != on non-primitive checks the reference of the object not its value).

Kotlin makes it more simple by reserving the symbols ==and != to check the objects' values (to check references you may use ===/ !==).

To overload the equality (and inequality) checks, you may override the well known equals() function.

override fun equals(other: Any?): Boolean {
  if (other == null || 
      other !is Point ||
      x != other.x || y != other.y) return false
  return true

Exception: As you may know, in Kotlin objects can be non-null. In that case, x == null will always be false, and equals will never be called.

Tips: As you may know, in Kotlin, data class already implements eqauls(), as other useful functions (getters/setters, hashCode(), copy() and toString())

If you want to know more about operator overloading, please check at my full article on this subject.

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