The substituability test is breaking the encapsulation

John Rose john.r.rose at
Mon Feb 25 20:37:00 UTC 2019

On Feb 25, 2019, at 6:32 AM, Brian Goetz <brian.goetz at> wrote:
>> To pick up on John’s note from v-dev over the weekend, value-objects are more easily _forgeable_ than identity-objects.  There are infinitely many possible java.lang.Integers, because of the unique-per-instance identity; there are only finitely many instances of 
>    value class IntWrapper { public int i; }
> and, given access to the constructor, you can construct them all, and readily stamp out whatever instance you like, and it is just as good as all other instances with that state.  

My current favorite metaphor for explaining the difference
between value* objects and reference* objects is the one
you coined, Brian, of the little band placed around the infant's
wrist just after birth.  Similarly the JVM adds such a unique
extra identity* (what else do you call it?) to every Integer but
not to any int.  Values are not values because they have
something different from objects, but because they don't
have the wristband; you can't tell them apart anymore,
compared to objects which always carry their little wristband
around.  (Metaphor failures:  We don't use infant wristbands
to *tell infants apart*.  And the infant eventually loses the
wristband.  Tattoo?  Let's not; besides those are forgeable.
Regardless, the wristband is helpful.)

So if an implementor wants every new value to be not-same*
to every other new value, the implementor of the value* class
can just add a wristband.  That is:

>    value class UnforgeableIntWrapper {
>      public int i;
>      private Object wristband = new Object();  }

And done, I hope.

Does the JVM have anything to add here?  I don't think so.
If we were to create unforgeable value objects as a third
or fourth kind of type, this is the implementation we'd use.

So encapsulation, controlled by user choice, provides adequate
control over this corner case in op== semantics.

— John

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