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multi-dimension array question - dan's exam

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In this question, i do understand how line //4 prints null, but the answer mentions that line //7 generates a run time error.
The array a3 has 3*3*3=27 number of elements. so in line //7 the array referenced by a2 is assigned to array assigned by a3[0], a3[1] and a3[2]. this is where i have the doubt, won't stmt //8 print the value null??
could someone clarify what the lines //6 through //8 mean?
Thanks in advance

class A13 {}
class A14 {
public static void main(String[] arg) {
A13[] a1 = new A13[1]; // 1
A13[][] a2 = new A13[2][1]; // 2
A13[][][] a3 = new A13[3][3][3]; // 3
System.out.print(a3[2][2][2]); // 4
a1[0] = new A13(); // 5
a2[0] = a2[1] = a1; // 6
a3[0] = a3[1] = a3[2] = a2; // 7
System.out.print(a3[2][2][2]); // 8
What is the result of attempting to compile and run the program?
a. Prints: null
b. Prints: nullnull
c. Compile-time error at 1.
d. Compile-time error at 2.
e. Compile-time error at 3.
f. Compile-time error at 4.
g. Compile-time error at 5.
h. Compile-time error at 6.
i. Compile-time error at 7.
j. Compile-time error at 8.
k. Run-time error
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Line 7 does not cause a runtime exception but line 8 does. Take a close look at line 7 and see what happens:

a3[x] dereferences a two-dimensional array, that's why line 7 is legal otherwise you would get a compiler error. So after the assignment at line seven, a3 now only has 6 elements or A13[3][2][1], because all three of the primary sub-arrays of a3 (a3[0], a3[1], a3[2]) are now referencing a2 which is defined as A13[2][1]. Modifying the code like this may make it a littler clearer:
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hi sandyah.

means both a2[0] and a2[1] are assigned a one-dimesion array holding a null A13. code still works fine here.

means each of the three base arrays of a3 were assigned a 2-dimensional array [2][1]. with the given dimension, you have 2 base arrays each holding a single array that contains a null A13. remember, the only valid indexes for an array with the dimension [2][1] are [0][0], [1][0]. so far, so good.

the problem falls really in line 8 because a3[2] has been assigned to hold arrays with the dimension [2][1] as discussed above. again, the only valid indexes for a3[2] will then will be a3[2][0][0] and a3[2][1][0].
therefore, trying to access the index a3[2][2][2] which is out of range will give you an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException.
the key really is to understand that in java, multidimensional arrays are simply arrays of arrays. hope this helps.
[ March 14, 2004: Message edited by: nikki lorenzo ]
[ March 14, 2004: Message edited by: nikki lorenzo ]
Sandhya Harish
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thank you so much, Michael and nikki, it has become much clearer now.
i guess the part where i really got confused was when a2 was assigned a3 elements in line 7. now after actually seeing what has been assigned to the elements of a3, i know that only 6 elements are present and therefore anything beyond that is an ArrayIndexOutofBoundsException.
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