IBM Interview Questions: difference between abstraction and encapsulation

Difference between abstraction and encapsulation


  • Abstraction lets you focus on what the object does instead of how it does it
  • Encapsulation means hiding the internal details or mechanics of how an object does something.
Abstraction: The idea of presenting something in a simplified / different way, which is either easier to understand and use or more pertinent to the situation.
Consider a class that sends an email... it uses abstraction to show itself to you as some kind of messenger boy, so you can call emailSender.send(mail, recipient). What it actually does - chooses POP3 / SMTP, calling servers, MIME translation, etc, is abstracted away. You only see your messenger boy.

Encapsulation: The idea of securing and hiding data and methods that are private to an object. It deals more with making something independent and foolproof.
Take me, for instance. I encapsulate my heart rate from the rest of the world. Because I don't want anyone else changing that variable, and I don't need anyone else to set it in order for me to function. Its vitally important to me, but you don't need to know what it is, and you probably don't care anyway.

Look around you'll find that almost everything you touch is an example of both abstraction and encapsulation. Your phone, for instance presents to you the abstraction of being able to take what you say and say it to someone else - covering up GSM, processor architecture, radio frequencies, and a million other things you don't understand or care to. It also encapsulates certain data from you, like serial numbers, ID numbers, frequencies, etc.


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