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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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13.5. Evolution of Interfaces

This section describes the impact of changes to the declaration of an interface and its members on pre-existing binaries.

13.5.1. public Interfaces

Changing an interface that is not declared public to be declared public does not break compatibility with pre-existing binaries.

If an interface that is declared public is changed to not be declared public, then an IllegalAccessError is thrown if a pre-existing binary is linked that needs but no longer has access to the interface type, so such a change is not recommended for widely distributed interfaces.

13.5.2. Superinterfaces

Changes to the interface hierarchy cause errors in the same way that changes to the class hierarchy do, as described in §13.4.4. In particular, ...

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