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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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14.5. Statements

There are many kinds of statements in the Java programming language. Most correspond to statements in the C and C++ languages, but some are unique.

As in C and C++, the if statement of the Java programming language suffers from the so-called “dangling else problem,” illustrated by this misleadingly formatted example:

if (door.isOpen())    if (resident.isVisible())        resident.greet("Hello!");else door.bell.ring();  // A "dangling else"

The problem is that both the outer if statement and the inner if statement might conceivably own the else clause. In this example, one might surmise that the programmer intended the else clause to belong to the outer if statement.

The Java programming language, like C and C++ and many programming ...

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