Runtime Polymorphism

Runtime polymorphism
Runtime polymorphism or Dynamic Method Dispatch is a process in which a call to an overridden method is resolved at runtime rather than compile-time.

In this process, an overridden method is called through the reference variable of a superclass. The determination of the method to be called is based on the object being referred to by the reference variable.

Let’s first understand the upcasting before Runtime Polymorphism.


When reference variable of Parent class refers to the object of Child class, it is known as upcasting. For example:

Runtime Polymorphism

Example of Runtime Polymorphism

In this example, we are creating two classes Bike and Splendar. Splendar class extends Bike class and overrides its run() method. We are calling the run method by the reference variable of Parent class. Since it refers to the subclass object and subclass method overrides the Parent class method, subclass method is invoked at runtime.

Since method invocation is determined by the JVM not compiler, it is known as runtime polymorphism.


Real example of Java Runtime Polymorphism

Consider a scenario, Bank is a class that provides method to get the rate of interest. But, rate of interest may differ according to banks. For example, SBI, ICICI and AXIS banks could provide 8%, 7% and 9% rate of interest.

Note: It is also given in method overriding but there was no upcasting.


Runtime Polymorphism with data member

Method is overridden not the datamembers, so runtime polymorphism can’t be achieved by data members.
In the example given below, both the classes have a datamember speedlimit, we are accessing the datamember by the reference variable of Parent class which refers to the subclass object. Since we are accessing the datamember which is not overridden, hence it will access the datamember of Parent class always.

Rule: Runtime polymorphism can’t be achieved by data members.


Runtime Polymorphism with Multilevel Inheritance

Let’s see the simple example of Runtime Polymorphism with multilevel inheritance.


Try for Output


Since, BabyDog is not overriding the eat() method, so eat() method of Dog class is invoked.