Returning a Value

Finally, we may also want to get a result back from our methods, especially if it is performing a calculation or some other task for us. So, we can use a special keyword known as return to provide a value as output from our method. In general, if you call a method that returns a value, you want to catch that value in a variable.

Let’s look at an example:

public static void main(String[] args){
    output = max(5, 42, 3)

public static int max(int a, int b, int c){
    if (a >= b && a >= c){
        return a
    } else if (b >= a && b >= c){
        return b
    } else {
        return c

In this example, we have defined a method named max which will return the largest value of its three parameters, a, b, and c. So, in our main method, we are calling output with arguments 5, 42, and 3, which will be stored as a, b, and c, respectively.

Then, in the max method, we use an If-Else statements to determine which one is larger than the other two, and then return that value. So, if we look closely at the code, we should be able to see that it will return 42 as the largest value.

As we can see, our code can contain multiple return statements. However, the method will stop executing as soon as it reaches the first return statement, and will therefore only return a single value. This is really handy if we know the answer we need to output; we can just use the return keyword to stop what we are doing and provide the output.

So, once our max method is complete, the value 42 will be returned. In our main method, that value will be stored in the output variable. So, values returned from a method can be used in an assignment statement, just like any other value. In fact, we can treat a method call just like a variable! As soon as our program reaches a method call, it will stop what it is doing, execute the method, and replace the method call with the returned value. It’s a really handy way to organize our code.

That covers the basics of how a method is created in our code. On the next few pages, we’ll discuss some related topics that will help us understand how these methods work and how we can structure our code to take advantage of methods.