Why does beginning node have to be set to end node here?

Posted on 2011-10-24
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
In the java code below, when I read line 25, I keep thinking that .next means that there is a "next" method, but the dot operator can be followed by variables too right? Is just a way to access the "next" variable inside the node class? Why does the "next" variable in the beginMarker object have to be set equal to the endMarker?
public class MyLinkedList<AnyType> implements Iterable<AnyType> {

	private int theSize;
	private int modCount = 0;
	private Node<AnyType> beginMarker;
	private Node<AnyType> endMarker;

	private static class Node<AnyType> 
		public Node( AnyType d, Node<AnyType> p, Node<AnyType> n ) {
			data = d; prev = p; next = n;}

		public AnyType data; 
		public Node<AnyType>  prev;
		public Node<AnyType>  next;

	public MyLinkedList( ) {
		clear( );}

	public void clear( ) // Change the size of this collection to zero.
		beginMarker = new Node<AnyType>( null, null, null ); 
		endMarker = new Node<AnyType>( null, beginMarker, null ); = endMarker;

		theSize = 0;

	public int size( ) { //Returns the number of items in this collection.
		return theSize; 

	public boolean isEmpty( ) { 
		return size( ) == 0;}

	public boolean add( AnyType x ) { //Adds an item to this collection, at the end
		add( size( ), x );
		return true;

	/* the add method adds an item to this collection, at specified position. * Items at or after that 	position are slid one position higher */

	public void add( int idx, AnyType x ) {
		addBefore( getNode( idx), x );}

	public AnyType get( int idx ) { // Returns the item at position idx
		return getNode( idx ).data;}

	public AnyType set( int idx, AnyType newVal ) { //Changes the item at position idx
		Node<AnyType> p = getNode( idx );
		AnyType oldVal =; = newVal; 
		return oldVal;

	public AnyType remove( int idx ) { //Removes an item from this collection
		return	remove(getNode( idx ));}

	/* this addBefore method adds an item to this collection, at specified position p. 
	Items at or after that position are slid one position higher */

	private void addBefore( Node<AnyType> p, AnyType x ) {
		Node<AnyType> newNode = new Node<AnyType>( x, p.prev, p ); = newNode; 
		p.prev = newNode; 

	private AnyType remove( Node<AnyType> p ) {  // Removes the object contained in Node p. = p.prev; =; 

	private Node<AnyType> getNode( int idx)
		Node<AnyType> p;
		if( idx < 0 || idx > size() )
            throw new IndexOutOfBoundsException();
        if( idx < size( ) / 2 ) {
            p =;
            for( int i = 0; i < idx; i++ )
                p =;            
            p = endMarker;
            for( int i = size( ); i > idx; i-- )
                p = p.prev;
		return p;

	public java.util.Iterator<AnyType> iterator( ) {
        return new LinkedListIterator( );

	private class LinkedListIterator implements java.util.Iterator<AnyType>
		private Node<AnyType> current =;
       private int expectedModCount = modCount; 
		private boolean okToRemove = false;
		public boolean hasNext( ) {
			return current != endMarker;
        public AnyType next( )
            if( modCount != expectedModCount )
                throw new java.util.ConcurrentModificationException( ); 
            if( !hasNext( ) )
                throw new java.util.NoSuchElementException( ); 
            AnyType nextItem =;
            current =;
            okToRemove = true;
            return nextItem;
        public void remove( )
            if( modCount != expectedModCount )
                throw new java.util.ConcurrentModificationException( ); 
            if( !okToRemove )
                throw new IllegalStateException( );
            MyLinkedList.this.remove( current.prev );
            okToRemove = false;  

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Question by:shampouya
    LVL 84

    Expert Comment

    Because when the list is empty, there is no next node after the begin marker
    LVL 67

    Expert Comment

    And a method always has parens following it, while an attribute like next does not. Access to an attribute might trigger a method (getter/setter), but that is internal stuff and not needed to be known by the "user" of such an object.

    Author Comment

    Ok let me phrase it like this, what would happen if the "next" variable in the beginMarker object was not set equal to the endMarker? I understand why these two below are necessary, but I don't get why the .next needs to be used.

    beginMarker = new Node<AnyType>( null, null, null );
    endMarker = new Node<AnyType>( null, beginMarker, null );
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    "next" is always there whether you need it or not.  Your beginning node is of the object type "link" - which has a current spot, previous, and end.    

    In your code above, the end node - looks like it wraps around to the beginning instead of just being  the end.  You need to delimit which is the beginning and which is the end so you don't run into infinite loop situations.  

    I - when I do lists like this, always had an end node of null-null ; never one that wraps around.  I know the end node by it having no further nodes.   My first node would be addressed by a pointer, last node would be when = null.  ( So, I have no worries about what node is the end node.  I just hit it and stop. )

    In your case - when current == end, = first.   If you have no explicit end node (that is, this node = the memory address of the end node), you'll break - because your code never finds an end node to know when to stop.  

    And this here :  

    public boolean hasNext( ) {  return current != endMarker; }

    is why.   You will never find the end - and potentially loop infinitely or simply throw an error.  

    Author Closing Comment


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