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Interface vs. Inheritance: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 23, 2024
Interface is a contract in programming defining methods without implementing them. Inheritance is a mechanism where a class acquires properties and behaviors of another class.
Interface vs. Inheritance

Key Differences

In programming, an interface is a contract that defines a set of methods without implementing them. It allows different classes to be interchangeable if they implement the same interface. Inheritance, a fundamental concept in object-oriented programming, allows a class to inherit properties and methods from another class, known as the parent class.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 23, 2024
Interfaces support the design principle of programming to an interface, not an implementation, enabling loose coupling between classes. Inheritance, meanwhile, represents a strong form of relationship, with a direct dependency between the child and parent class.
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Interfaces provide flexibility in programming, allowing one to change the implementations without changing the interface. Inheritance, however, can lead to a rigid structure, making maintenance and updates more complex due to the tight coupling.
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Feb 23, 2024
Interfaces are often used when different classes need to share a common method signature, whereas inheritance is used when classes share not only method signatures but also behavior and state.
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Feb 23, 2024

Comparison Chart

Definition

A contract defining a set of methods without implementation.
A mechanism for one class to acquire properties and behaviors of another.
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Type of Relationship

Provides a formal contract for classes to implement.
Establishes a parent-child relationship between classes.
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Flexibility

More flexible, promoting loose coupling.
Less flexible, can create tight coupling.
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Reuse and Maintenance

Facilitates easy maintenance and updates.
Can lead to complex maintenance due to inheritance hierarchy.
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Common Use

Used for defining a common interface for different implementations.
Used for sharing and extending functionality between classes.
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Interface and Inheritance Definitions

Interface

A device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.
She preferred using a touch interface on her mobile devices.
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Inheritance

The genetic characters transmitted from parent to offspring.
His blue eyes are an inheritance from his mother.
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Interface

A shared boundary across which two separate components of a computer system exchange information.
The graphical user interface makes the software easy to use.
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Inheritance

Qualities, possessions, or status obtained from ancestors.
The ancient manuscripts are part of our cultural inheritance.
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Interface

A physical connection between two pieces of equipment.
He plugged the keyboard into the USB interface.
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Inheritance

A method in which a new class receives the properties of an existing class.
Inheritance in object-oriented programming allows for code reusability.
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Interface

The surface forming a common boundary between two bodies, spaces, or phases.
The interface between oil and water was clearly visible.
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Inheritance

The reception of property or title by legal succession or will.
She received the family estate as an inheritance.
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Interface

A surface forming a common boundary between adjacent regions, bodies, substances, or phases.
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Inheritance

The transmission of biological qualities or diseases from parent to offspring.
Hemophilia in their family was a genetic inheritance.
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Interface

A system of interaction or communication between a computer and another entity such as a printer, another computer, a network, or a human user.
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Interface

A device, such as a cable, network card, monitor, or keyboard, that enables interaction or communication between a computer and another entity.
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Interface

(computing) The point of interconnection between systems or subsystems.
The data is sent over the air interface to the remote system.
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Interface

(computer science) a program that controls a display for the user (usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact with the system
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Interface

(computer science) computer circuit consisting of the hardware and associated circuitry that links one device with another (especially a computer and a hard disk drive or other peripherals)
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Interface

A point where two systems, subjects, organizations, etc., meet and interact.
The interface between the two departments facilitated efficient project completion.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is inheritance in programming?

Inheritance is a mechanism where one class acquires the properties and behaviors of another class.
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Is inheritance supported in all programming languages?

Most object-oriented programming languages support inheritance, but the implementation can vary.
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Is multiple inheritance allowed in Java?

Java does not support multiple inheritance for classes but allows a class to implement multiple interfaces.
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What is an interface in programming?

An interface is a programming structure that defines methods without implementing them.
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How does inheritance promote code reuse?

Inheritance promotes code reuse by allowing new classes to use methods and properties of existing classes.
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What is the diamond problem in inheritance?

The diamond problem occurs in multiple inheritance when a class inherits from two classes with a common ancestor.
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Can an interface implement methods?

Traditionally, interfaces do not implement methods, though modern languages like Java allow default implementations.
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How does an interface differ from an abstract class?

An interface only declares methods, while an abstract class can provide partial implementation.
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How do interfaces promote loose coupling?

Interfaces promote loose coupling by allowing different classes to be interchanged if they implement the same interface.
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What is the primary use of an interface?

Interfaces are primarily used to define a contract that various classes can implement.
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How is inheritance implemented in C++?

In C++, inheritance is implemented using the 'extends' keyword for classes.
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Can a class implement multiple interfaces?

Yes, a class can implement multiple interfaces.
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What is multiple inheritance?

Multiple inheritance is when a class inherits features from more than one parent class.
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Are interfaces part of Java's inheritance hierarchy?

Interfaces are not part of the traditional inheritance hierarchy but form their own hierarchy.
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Can a class inherit from multiple interfaces?

Yes, a class can inherit from multiple interfaces.
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Can interfaces define default behavior in modern programming languages?

Yes, modern programming languages like Java allow interfaces to define default behaviors for methods.
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Can interfaces have fields?

Interfaces can have constants but typically do not have fields that store data.
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What is method overriding in inheritance?

Method overriding is when a child class provides a specific implementation of a method that is already provided by its parent class.
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What is single inheritance?

Single inheritance is when a class inherits from only one parent class.
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What is interface segregation principle?

The interface segregation principle states that no client should be forced to depend on methods it does not use.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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