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25  
26  package java.lang;
27  import java.util.*;
28  
29  /**
30   * This interface imposes a total ordering on the objects of each class that
31   * implements it.  This ordering is referred to as the class's <i>natural
32   * ordering</i>, and the class's <tt>compareTo</tt> method is referred to as
33   * its <i>natural comparison method</i>.<p>
34   *
35   * Lists (and arrays) of objects that implement this interface can be sorted
36   * automatically by {@link Collections#sort(List) Collections.sort} (and
37   * {@link Arrays#sort(Object[]) Arrays.sort}).  Objects that implement this
38   * interface can be used as keys in a {@linkplain SortedMap sorted map} or as
39   * elements in a {@linkplain SortedSet sorted set}, without the need to
40   * specify a {@linkplain Comparator comparator}.<p>
41   *
42   * The natural ordering for a class <tt>C</tt> is said to be <i>consistent
43   * with equals</i> if and only if <tt>e1.compareTo(e2) == 0</tt> has
44   * the same boolean value as <tt>e1.equals(e2)</tt> for every
45   * <tt>e1</tt> and <tt>e2</tt> of class <tt>C</tt>.  Note that <tt>null</tt>
46   * is not an instance of any class, and <tt>e.compareTo(null)</tt> should
47   * throw a <tt>NullPointerException</tt> even though <tt>e.equals(null)</tt>
48   * returns <tt>false</tt>.<p>
49   *
50   * It is strongly recommended (though not required) that natural orderings be
51   * consistent with equals.  This is so because sorted sets (and sorted maps)
52   * without explicit comparators behave "strangely" when they are used with
53   * elements (or keys) whose natural ordering is inconsistent with equals.  In
54   * particular, such a sorted set (or sorted map) violates the general contract
55   * for set (or map), which is defined in terms of the <tt>equals</tt>
56   * method.<p>
57   *
58   * For example, if one adds two keys <tt>a</tt> and <tt>b</tt> such that
59   * {@code (!a.equals(b) && a.compareTo(b) == 0)} to a sorted
60   * set that does not use an explicit comparator, the second <tt>add</tt>
61   * operation returns false (and the size of the sorted set does not increase)
62   * because <tt>a</tt> and <tt>b</tt> are equivalent from the sorted set's
63   * perspective.<p>
64   *
65   * Virtually all Java core classes that implement <tt>Comparable</tt> have natural
66   * orderings that are consistent with equals.  One exception is
67   * <tt>java.math.BigDecimal</tt>, whose natural ordering equates
68   * <tt>BigDecimal</tt> objects with equal values and different precisions
69   * (such as 4.0 and 4.00).<p>
70   *
71   * For the mathematically inclined, the <i>relation</i> that defines
72   * the natural ordering on a given class C is:<pre>
73   *       {(x, y) such that x.compareTo(y) &lt;= 0}.
74   * </pre> The <i>quotient</i> for this total order is: <pre>
75   *       {(x, y) such that x.compareTo(y) == 0}.
76   * </pre>
77   *
78   * It follows immediately from the contract for <tt>compareTo</tt> that the
79   * quotient is an <i>equivalence relation</i> on <tt>C</tt>, and that the
80   * natural ordering is a <i>total order</i> on <tt>C</tt>.  When we say that a
81   * class's natural ordering is <i>consistent with equals</i>, we mean that the
82   * quotient for the natural ordering is the equivalence relation defined by
83   * the class's {@link Object#equals(Object) equals(Object)} method:<pre>
84   *     {(x, y) such that x.equals(y)}. </pre><p>
85   *
86   * This interface is a member of the
87   * <a href="{@docRoot}/../technotes/guides/collections/index.html">
88   * Java Collections Framework</a>.
89   *
90   * @param <T> the type of objects that this object may be compared to
91   *
92   * @author  Josh Bloch
93   * @see java.util.Comparator
94   * @since 1.2
95   */
96  public interface Comparable<T> {
97      /**
98       * Compares this object with the specified object for order.  Returns a
99       * negative integer, zero, or a positive integer as this object is less
100      * than, equal to, or greater than the specified object.
101      *
102      * <p>The implementor must ensure <tt>sgn(x.compareTo(y)) ==
103      * -sgn(y.compareTo(x))</tt> for all <tt>x</tt> and <tt>y</tt>.  (This
104      * implies that <tt>x.compareTo(y)</tt> must throw an exception iff
105      * <tt>y.compareTo(x)</tt> throws an exception.)
106      *
107      * <p>The implementor must also ensure that the relation is transitive:
108      * <tt>(x.compareTo(y)&gt;0 &amp;&amp; y.compareTo(z)&gt;0)</tt> implies
109      * <tt>x.compareTo(z)&gt;0</tt>.
110      *
111      * <p>Finally, the implementor must ensure that <tt>x.compareTo(y)==0</tt>
112      * implies that <tt>sgn(x.compareTo(z)) == sgn(y.compareTo(z))</tt>, for
113      * all <tt>z</tt>.
114      *
115      * <p>It is strongly recommended, but <i>not</i> strictly required that
116      * <tt>(x.compareTo(y)==0) == (x.equals(y))</tt>.  Generally speaking, any
117      * class that implements the <tt>Comparable</tt> interface and violates
118      * this condition should clearly indicate this fact.  The recommended
119      * language is "Note: this class has a natural ordering that is
120      * inconsistent with equals."
121      *
122      * <p>In the foregoing description, the notation
123      * <tt>sgn(</tt><i>expression</i><tt>)</tt> designates the mathematical
124      * <i>signum</i> function, which is defined to return one of <tt>-1</tt>,
125      * <tt>0</tt>, or <tt>1</tt> according to whether the value of
126      * <i>expression</i> is negative, zero or positive.
127      *
128      * @param   o the object to be compared.
129      * @return  a negative integer, zero, or a positive integer as this object
130      *          is less than, equal to, or greater than the specified object.
131      *
132      * @throws NullPointerException if the specified object is null
133      * @throws ClassCastException if the specified object's type prevents it
134      *         from being compared to this object.
135      */
136     public int compareTo(T o);
137 }