[SOLVED] Should try…catch go inside or outside a loop?

Issue

I have a loop that looks something like this:

for (int i = 0; i < max; i++) {
    String myString = ...;
    float myNum = Float.parseFloat(myString);
    myFloats[i] = myNum;
}

This is the main content of a method whose sole purpose is to return the array of floats. I want this method to return null if there is an error, so I put the loop inside a try...catch block, like this:

try {
    for (int i = 0; i < max; i++) {
        String myString = ...;
        float myNum = Float.parseFloat(myString);
        myFloats[i] = myNum;
    }
} catch (NumberFormatException ex) {
    return null;
}

But then I also thought of putting the try...catch block inside the loop, like this:

for (int i = 0; i < max; i++) {
    String myString = ...;
    try {
        float myNum = Float.parseFloat(myString);
    } catch (NumberFormatException ex) {
        return null;
    }
    myFloats[i] = myNum;
}

Is there any reason, performance or otherwise, to prefer one over the other?


Edit: The consensus seems to be that it is cleaner to put the loop inside the try/catch, possibly inside its own method. However, there is still debate on which is faster. Can someone test this and come back with a unified answer?

Solution

All right, after Jeffrey L Whitledge said that there was no performance difference (as of 1997), I went and tested it. I ran this small benchmark:

public class Main {

    private static final int NUM_TESTS = 100;
    private static int ITERATIONS = 1000000;
    // time counters
    private static long inTime = 0L;
    private static long aroundTime = 0L;

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        for (int i = 0; i < NUM_TESTS; i++) {
            test();
            ITERATIONS += 1; // so the tests don't always return the same number
        }
        System.out.println("Inside loop: " + (inTime/1000000.0) + " ms.");
        System.out.println("Around loop: " + (aroundTime/1000000.0) + " ms.");
    }
    public static void test() {
        aroundTime += testAround();
        inTime += testIn();
    }
    public static long testIn() {
        long start = System.nanoTime();
        Integer i = tryInLoop();
        long ret = System.nanoTime() - start;
        System.out.println(i); // don't optimize it away
        return ret;
    }
    public static long testAround() {
        long start = System.nanoTime();
        Integer i = tryAroundLoop();
        long ret = System.nanoTime() - start;
        System.out.println(i); // don't optimize it away
        return ret;
    }
    public static Integer tryInLoop() {
        int count = 0;
        for (int i = 0; i < ITERATIONS; i++) {
            try {
                count = Integer.parseInt(Integer.toString(count)) + 1;
            } catch (NumberFormatException ex) {
                return null;
            }
        }
        return count;
    }
    public static Integer tryAroundLoop() {
        int count = 0;
        try {
            for (int i = 0; i < ITERATIONS; i++) {
                count = Integer.parseInt(Integer.toString(count)) + 1;
            }
            return count;
        } catch (NumberFormatException ex) {
            return null;
        }
    }
}

I checked the resulting bytecode using javap to make sure that nothing got inlined.

The results showed that, assuming insignificant JIT optimizations, Jeffrey is correct; there is absolutely no performance difference on Java 6, Sun client VM (I did not have access to other versions). The total time difference is on the order of a few milliseconds over the entire test.

Therefore, the only consideration is what looks cleanest. I find that the second way is ugly, so I will stick to either the first way or Ray Hayes’s way.

Answered By – Michael Myers

Answer Checked By – Marilyn (BugsFixing Volunteer)

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