Upper Bounded Wildcards

You can use an upper bounded wildcard to relax the restrictions on a variable. For example, say you want to write a method that works on List\<Integer\> , List\<Double\> , and List\<Number\> ; you can achieve this by using an upper bounded wildcard.

To declare an upper-bounded wildcard, use the wildcard character (' ? '), followed by the extends keyword, followed by its upper bound . Note that, in this context, extends is used in a general sense to mean either "extends" (as in classes) or "implements" (as in interfaces).

To write the method that works on lists of Number and the subtypes of Number , such as Integer , Double , and Float , you would specify List\<? extends Number\> . The term List\<Number\> is more restrictive than List\<? extends Number\> because the former matches a list of type Number only, whereas the latter matches a list of type Number or any of its subclasses.

Consider the following process method:

public static void process(List<? extends Foo> list) { /* ... */ }

The upper bounded wildcard, \<? extends Foo\> , where Foo is any type, matches Foo and any subtype of Foo . The process method can access the list elements as type Foo :

public static void process(List<? extends Foo> list) {
    for (Foo elem : list) {
        // ...

In the foreach clause, the elem variable iterates over each element in the list. Any method defined in the Foo class can now be used on elem .

The sumOfList method returns the sum of the numbers in a list:

public static double sumOfList(List<? extends Number> list) {
    double s = 0.0;
    for (Number n : list)
        s += n.doubleValue();
    return s;

The following code, using a list of Integer objects, prints sum = 6\.0 :

List<Integer> li = Arrays.asList(1, 2, 3);
System.out.println("sum = " + sumOfList(li));

A list of Double values can use the same sumOfList method. The following code prints sum = 7\.0 :

List<Double> ld = Arrays.asList(1.2, 2.3, 3.5);
System.out.println("sum = " + sumOfList(ld));