Type Conversion in Java | Type Casting, Example

The process of converting a value from one data type to another is known as type conversion in Java. Type conversion is also known as type casting in Java or simply ‘casting’.

If two data types are compatible with each other, Java will perform such conversion automatically or implicitly for you. We can easily convert a primitive data type into another primitive data type by using type casting.

Similarly, it is also possible to convert a non-primitive data type (referenced data type) into another non-primitive data type by using type casting.

But we cannot convert a primitive data type into an advanced (referenced) data type by using type casting. For this case, we will have to use methods of Java Wrapper classes.

Types of Casting in Java

Two types of casting are possible in Java are as follows:

  1. Implicit type casting (also known as automatic type conversion)
  2. Explicit type casting

Let’s understand one by one with the help of example programs.

Implicit Type Casting in Java

Automatic conversion (casting) done by Java compiler internally is called implicit conversion or implicit type casting in java.

Implicit casting is performed to convert a lower data type into a higher data type. It is also known as automatic type promotion in Java.

For example, if we assign an int value to a long variable, it is compatible with each other, but an int value cannot be assigned to a byte variable.

int x = 20;
long y = x; // Automatic conversion

byte z = x;  // Type mismatch: cannot convert from int to byte.

The conversion of an int value to byte is an incompatible type and it cannot be performed automatically by Java compiler because byte is smaller than int.

Similarly, no automatic conversion will take place from double to byte. These kinds of conversions can be done by using a technique called explicit casting.

Type casting performs an explicit conversion between incompatible types. Therefore, it is also known as an explicit type casting in Java. It is used to convert an object or variable of one type to another.

It must be done explicitly by the programmer. The compiler will not do it automatically. Let’s understand in more detail both automatic type conversion (implicit casting) and explicit casting.

Automatic Type Conversion in Java with Example

When we perform arithmetic or mathematical operations with operands of different types, Java compiler performs an implicit conversion internally.

In other words, Java compiler automatically converts ‘lower’ type to ‘higher’ type before the operation proceeds and gives the result of higher type.

Lower types are those types that consume less memory and store less number of digits in value. Higher types use more memory and store more number of digits.

The below figure shows which conversion is allowed by Java. Let’s understand the concept better from the figure.

Automatic type conversion in Java

From the above diagram, a byte can be promoted to short, int, long, float, or double. Similarly, the short data type can be promoted to int, long, float, or double. The char data type can be promoted to int, float, long or double, and so on.

Automatic Type Promotion Rules in Expression

1. If byte, short, and int are used in a mathematical expression, Java always converts the result into an int.

2. If a single long is used in the expression, the whole expression is converted to long.

3. If a float operand is used in an expression, the whole expression is converted to float.

4. If any operand is double, the result is promoted to double.

5. Boolean values cannot be converted to another type.

6. Conversion from float to int causes truncation of the fractional part which represents the loss of precision. Java does not allow this.

7. Conversion from double to float causes rounding of digits that may cause some of the value’s precision to be lost.

8. Conversion from long to int is also not possible. It causes the dropping of the excess higher order bits.

For example, when you will perform the addition of an int and a double, it gives the result in a double, and the subtraction of long from float results in float.

Let’s take an example program based on the above rules of automatic type promotion.

Program code 1:

package typeConversion; 
public class AutoTypeConversion 
   int x = 20; 
   double y = 40.5; 
   long p = 30; 
   float q = 10.60f; 

   void sum() 
   // int z = x + y; (1) // Error; cannot convert from double to int. 
      double z = x + y; 
      System.out.println("Sum of two numbers: " +z); 
   void sub() 
   // long r = p - q; // (2) // Error; cannot convert from float to long. 
      float r = p - q; 
      System.out.println("Subtraction of two numbers: " +r); 
public static void main(String[] args) 
    AutoTypeConversion obj = new AutoTypeConversion(); 
    obj.sum(); // Calling sum method. 
    obj.sub(); // Calling sub method. 
       Sum of two numbers: 60.5 
       Subtraction of two numbers: 19.4


1. In this example, the result of addition is double because when int and double are added, int is promoted to the higher-ranking data type double. Therefore, assigning the result as a double is legal.

But when the result will assign to be an int, the fractional part of the value of y will be truncated and the result will give the value of 60, not 60.5. It represents a loss of precision and Java does not allow any loss of precision. Therefore, the compiler will generate an error in line number 1.

2. Similarly, the result of subtraction is float because when long and float are subtracted, long is promoted to the higher-ranking data type float.

Let’s take one more example program to understand better.

Program code 2:

package typeConversion; 
public class PromoteTest { 
public static void main(String[] args) 
    byte b = 42; 
    char c = 'a'; 
    short s = 1024; 
    int i = 50000; 
    float f = 5.67f; 
    double d = 0.1234; 

 // Expression: 
    double result = (f * b) + (i / c) - (d * s); 

 // Result after all the promotions are done. 
    System.out.println("result = " + result); 
       result = 626.7784146484375


1. In the first sub expression, f * b, b is promoted to float and the result of sub expression is float.

2. In the second sub expression i / c, first c is promoted to int and the result of sub expression will be int.

3. Then, in d * s, the value of s is promoted to double and the data type of sub expression is double.

Finally, now we will consider these three intermediate values with data type float, int, and double. When the addition of a float and an int is performed, the outcome is float.

Then, the resultant float is minus with the last double, is converted to double, which is the data type of the final result of the expression.

When takes place Automatic Type Conversion in Java?

An automatic type conversion takes place in Java if these two conditions are met:

  • The data types are compatible with each other.
  • The destination type is bigger than the source type.

When these two conditions are met, a widening conversion will take place. The process of converting lower data type into higher data type is called widening in Java.

Widening is safe because there is no loss of data or accuracy or precision. For example, the int type is always large enough to hold all bytes value. Therefore, no explicit casting is needed.

The widening conversion (i.e. automatic type conversion) is possible in Java when the numeric type (including integer and floating-point type) is compatible with each other.

But no widening conversion is supported from numeric type to char or boolean because the numeric type is incompatible with char or boolean. Also, char and boolean are incompatible with each other.

Look at the below diagram that is useful to understand the concept of widening conversion.
Widening conversion / automatic type conversion in java

Let’s understand the concept of widening conversion with the help of an example program.

Program code 2:

package typeConversion; 
public class WideningConversionEx { 
public static void main(String[] args) 
   int a = 50; 
   double d = 100; 

// Automatic type conversion 
   long l = a; 
// int i = l; // Type mismatch: cannot convert from long to int.
// Automatic type conversion 
   float f = l; 
// int i1 = f; // Type mismatch: cannot convert from float to int. 
// float f1 = d; // Type mismatch. 
   double d1 = f; 

   System.out.println("Int value "+a); 
   System.out.println("Long value "+l); 
   System.out.println("Float value "+f); 
   System.out.println("Double value " +d1); 
       Int value 50 
       Long value 50 
       Float value 50.0 
       Double value 50.0


1. In the preceding example, a long type is large enough to hold int value but an int type cannot enough to hold long type because int is smaller than long. Similarly, float type is large enough to hold long type but int type cannot hold a float value.

2. As you will observe in the above program, there is no loss of data or precision, or accuracy, therefore, widening conversion is safe. This is the reason, Java compiler does widening conversion automatically. This conversion is also called implicit casting in java.

Explicit Type Casting (Narrowing Conversion) in Java

As we know that automatic conversion is very helpful, and safe, but it cannot fulfill all needs. For example, if you will assign a double value to an int variable, this conversion cannot be performed automatically because an int is smaller than a double.

In this case, we must use explicit type casting to create a conversion between two incompatible types. This kind of conversion is also known as narrowing conversion in Java.

The conversion of a higher data type into a lower data type is called narrowing conversion.

Since this type of conversion is performed by the programmer, not by the compiler automatically, therefore, it is also called explicit type casting in Java. It is done to convert from a higher data type to a lower data type.

The following diagram is useful to perform the narrowing conversion or explicit type casting in Java program.

Narrowing conversion in java

To perform this kind of type casting, we will have to use a cast operator. A cast operator is used to cast a primitive value from one type to another. Using a cast operator is simply an explicit type conversion.

The general syntax of a cast is given below:

(type_name) expression;

Where, type_name specify a standard data type. The expression may be a variable, constant, or an expression.

Let’s take different types of conversion to understand better the concept of Java explicit type casting.

1. int x;
   double y = 9.99;
   x = (int)y;   // It will compile in Java and the resulting value will simply be 9.

Here, we are converting double type into int type by using cast operator (int) before variable y. The value in y is 9.99.

Since it is converting into int data type, the fractional part of a double will be discarded when casting to an integer. It is not rounded.

Only 9 will be stored in x. Now, observe that we are losing some digits. So, narrowing conversion is not safe. That’s why, Java compiler forces the programmer to use cast operator when going for narrowing or explicit casting.

2. double d = 100.9;
   long l = (long)d; // Explicit type casting.

The output will be 100 because the fractional part is lost.

3. int x;
   float y = 27.6f;
   x = (int)(y + 0.5);

On explicit type casting, the output becomes 28.

4. int a = 66;
   char ch = (char)a; // ch stores 'B'.

In this example, we are converting int type a value into char type. When the value of n is converted into char type, ‘ch’ will store a character ‘B’ because the value 66 of n is the ASCII value of ‘B’.

Let’s take example programs based on Java explicit type casting or narrowing conversion.

Program code 3:

package typeConversion; 
public class ExplicitTest 
   double d = 100.04; 
   void conversion() 
   // Explicit type casting 
      long l = (long)d; 
      int i = (int)l; 
      System.out.println("Double value "+d); // fractional part lost. 
      System.out.println("Long value "+l); // fractional part lost. 
      System.out.println("Int value "+i); 
public static void main(String[] args) 
    ExplicitTest obj = new ExplicitTest(); 
       Double value 100.04 
       Long value 100 
       Int value 100

Program code 4:

package typeConversion; 
public class ExplicitTest { 
public static void main(String[] args) 
    byte b; 
    int i = 257; 
    double d = 323.142; 
    System.out.println("Conversion of int to byte."); 
    b = (byte) i; 
    System.out.println("i = " + i + " b = " + b); 
    System.out.println("nConversion of double to int."); 
    i = (int) d; 
    System.out.println("d = " + d + " b = " + i); 
    System.out.println("nConversion of double to byte."); 

    b = (byte) d; 
    System.out.println("d = " + d + " b = " + b); 
       Conversion of int to byte. 
        i = 257 
        b = 1 
       Conversion of double to int. 
        d = 323.142 
        b = 323 
       Conversion of double to byte. 
        d = 323.142 
        b = 67

In this example program, when the value 257 is cast into a byte variable, the output is 1 that is the remainder of the division of 257 by 256 (the range of a byte). When d is converted into an int, its fractional part is lost.

When d is converted into a byte, its fractional part is also lost and the value is reduced module 256, which is 67 in this case.

Disadvantage of Explicit Type Casting in Java

There are the following disadvantages of using type casting in Java.

  • When you will use type casting in Java, you can lose some information or data.
  • Accuracy can be lost while using type casting.
  • When a double is cast to an int, the fractional part of a double is discarded, which causes the loss of fractional part of data.

Difference between Implicit Casting and Explicit Casting in Java

The differences between implicit casting and explicit casting in Java are as follows:

1. Implicit type casting is done internally by Java compiler whereas, explicit type casting is done by the programmer. Java compiler does not perform it automatically.

2. In explicit casting, cast operator is needed whereas, no need for any operator needs in the case of implicit type casting.

3. If we perform explicit type casting in a program, we can lose information or data, but in the case of implicit type casting, there is no loss of data.

4. Accuracy is not maintained in explicit type casting whereas, there is no issue of accuracy in implicit type conversion.

5. Implicit type conversion is safe, but explicit type casting is not safe.

In this tutorial, we have explained almost all the important points and sub-topics related to implicit and explicit type casting in Java with example programs. Hope that you will have understood type casting in Java and practiced all example programs. In the next, we will understand automatic type promotion in Java method overloading.
Thanks for reading!!!

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