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Common Constants

Clayton Cramer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 41
We have started to use a tool called Your Kit Java Profiler. It shows something that just dumbfounds me, because I would have thought Java was smarter than this. It shows that we have 26 MB of heap devoted to duplicate copies of the empty string "". Unlike every C compiler that I have ever, used it would appear that if you have multiple strings that are identical, and immutable (you are referencing them as "" in expressions like str = i + ""), each reference produces its own copy of that empty string. The painful solution is to define an empty string in one file:

public final static String s = "";

and then replace all the "" references with s.

Is there really no way to tell the Java compiler to combine immutable constants?
Winston Gutkowski

Joined: Mar 17, 2011
Posts: 8945

Clayton Cramer wrote:Is there really no way to tell the Java compiler to combine immutable constants?

Have a look at String.intern().

However, if you say that there's 26Mb of this, I don't think that's the full extent of your problem.


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Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3028
This sounds very suspicious, as the Java Language Specification has always required that string literals and other String constant expressions be interned in the first place. It's possible that you've got a compiler/JVM which is somehow violating this I suppose. But it seems more likely you're misinterpreting what YourKit is telling you. Perhaps there are other objects being created by the expressions you're using. For example, for

it's probably generating something like this:

You can probably do better with
Clayton Cramer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 41
It is certainly the case that we have vast numbers of i + "" expressions scattered about the code, and that might explain why we have 26 MB of "". Each new StringBuilder("") would presumably create a distinct copy, because a StringBuilder object is mutable.
Jeff Verdegan

Joined: Jan 03, 2004
Posts: 6109

26 MB of StringBuilder containing "", yes, could theoretically make sense, although they should be short-lived, so I'm not sure why you'd have 26 MB live at once.

26 MB of String objects containing "" sounds very wrong.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 15092

Do you have code that uses the String constructor with a literal, like this:

If you do that a lot, you would be creating a lot of unnecessary String objects, and it prevents the compiler from reusing String objects. Never use new String(...) with a string literal as its argument, it's never necessary.

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subject: Common Constants
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