JEqualityGen: Generating equality and hashing methods

Neville Grech, Julian Rathke and Bernd Fischer

Abstract: Manually implementing equals (for object comparisons) and hashCode (for object hashing) methods in large software projects is tedious and error-prone. This is due to many special cases, such as field shadowing, comparison between different types, or cyclic object graphs. Here, we present JEqualityGen, a source code generator that automatically derives implementations of these methods.

JEqualityGen proceeds in two states: it first uses source code reflection in MetaAspectJ to generate aspects that contain the method implementations, before it uses weaving on the bytecode level to insert these into the target application. JEqualityGen generates not only correct, but efficient source code that on a typical large-scale Java application exhibits a performance improvement of more than two orders of magnitude in the equality operations generated, compared to an existing system based on runtime reflection. JEqualityGen achieves this by generating runtime profiling code that collects data. This enables it to generate optimised method implementations in a second round.