Monday, September 9, 2013

Weird IllegalArgumentException in HashMap constructor

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Illegal load factor: 0.0
        at java.util.HashMap.( Code))
        at java.util.HashMap.( Compiled Code))
        at pl.my_emploee_data.( Code))

This is a bug I was assigned to fix. First tried to look at the code and found this in the constructor:

this.servers = new HashMap(Limits.SERVERS);

What could be wrong with suggesting initial hash map size, right?

the JVM

My initial thought was: maybe it's not SUN (Oracle) Java and some incompatibilities occur. Maybe the HashMap constructor parameter was misunderstood? Found IBM Java 1.4.
This is known to be incompatible, but it's not the OpenJVM that simply does not work with most of our code.

the Fix

Just removed the initial size parameters, since default (16) size isn't that much different.

I was tempted to say 'premature optimization is the root of all errors', but actually this isn't the case.
Something must have broken the working code. Probably some fix pack, patch or change in the system.
Somehow the default 0.75 load factor must have been overriden to 0.0.

There are some hints in about
Since the code works now and issue seems to be maintanence-like, I only notified hosting staff about the problem to think about.

If however someone has some idea where we might have made such a mistake, please let me know.
(grep yelds nothing)

UPDATE: It seems that using default constructor (without size) was not a very good idea. Application went out of memory and I had to go back to the initial size. Simply specified the load factor, overriding the problematic parameter:

this.servers = new HashMap(Limits.SERVERS, 0.75f);

Lessons learned:

  • running code on different JVM than usual or used for testing, makes error more probable
  • fix the code with minimum impact
  • admit to yourself that things are not always that simple