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Java Tips: How to Avoid the ‘Ambiguous Method Call’ Error

Have you encountered the “Method X is ambiguous for type Y” error while programming in Java? We’ll show you why this common error occurs and how you can avoid it.

Java is one of the most popular programming languages, but it’s not without its pitfalls. A common problem developers often experience is the “The method X is ambiguous for the type Y” error. This error occurs when the Java compiler encounters an ambiguity while translating a program. But what exactly does this mean, and how can it be avoided? In this post, we explain this phenomenon with examples and provide tips on how to avoid such errors in the future.


What Does “Ambiguous Method Call” Mean?

The “Ambiguous Method Call” error occurs when the Java compiler is uncertain during method selection. This typically happens with method overloading – when several methods have the same name but accept different parameters. The compiler then has to decide which method should be called.

Example and Explanation

Consider the following Java program as an example:

public class Test {

    public void foo(Object o) {

    public void foo(String s) {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        new Test().foo(null);


In this case, the `Test` class has two methods named `foo`, one taking an `Object` and the other a `String` as a parameter. When we call `foo(null)`, the compiler chooses the `foo(String s)` method, as `String` is a more specific version of `Object`.

The Ambiguity Problem

Now, let’s expand the example:

public void foo(Integer i){

If we add this method and call `foo(null)` again, a problem arises. Both `String` and `Integer` are subclasses of `Object`, and the compiler cannot decide which method is more specific. Therefore, the error “The method foo(Object) is ambiguous for the type Test” appears.

Solution Suggestions

To avoid such errors, developers should:

  • Use specific parameters: Avoid using too general parameters like `Object` when more specific alternatives are possible.
  • Create clarity in method overloading: Ensure that overloaded methods differ sufficiently in their parameters.
  • Ensure type safety: Avoid using `null` as a parameter, as this can lead to ambiguities.


The “The method X is ambiguous for the type Y” error in Java can be confusing but can be avoided with careful design and a good understanding of method overloading. It’s important for Java developers to understand the principles of method selection and adapt their codebase accordingly to prevent such problems.

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