subtype : Java Glossary

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subtype
Starting with Java 1.5, When you have generics, List<String> (a List guaranteed to contain nothing but Strings) and List<?> (a List containing any sort of Object) are considered the same class, however, List<String> is a subtype of List<?> because every List<String> is also a List<?>. When you override a method, you have the option of returning an object of a subtype of the one returned by the method in the base class. In other words, you can narrow but not widen what the method can return.

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