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The Java® Language Specification, Java SE 7 Edition, Fourth Edition by Alex Buckley, Gilad Bracha, Guy Steele, Bill Joy, James Gosling

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13.2. What Binary Compatibility Is and Is Not

A change to a type is binary compatible with (equivalently, does not break binary compatibility with) pre-existing binaries if pre-existing binaries that previously linked without error will continue to link without error.

Binaries are compiled to rely on the accessible members and constructors of other classes and interfaces. To preserve binary compatibility, a class or interface should treat its accessible members and constructors, their existence and behavior, as a contract with its users.

The Java programming language is designed to prevent additions to contracts and accidental name collisions from breaking binary compatibility. Specifically, addition of more methods overloading a particular method ...

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