Creates and returns a copy of this object. The precise meaning of "copy" may depend on the class of the object. The general intent is that, for any object x, the expression: <blockquote> <pre> x.clone() != x</pre></blockquote> will be true, and that the expression: <blockquote> <pre> x.clone().getClass() == x.getClass()</pre></blockquote> will be true, but these are not absolute requirements. While it is typically the case that: <blockquote> <pre> x.clone().equals(x)</pre></blockquote> will be true, this is not an absolute requirement. <p> By convention, the returned object should be obtained by calling super.clone. If a class and all of its superclasses (except Object) obey this convention, it will be the case that x.clone().getClass() == x.getClass(). <p> By convention, the object returned by this method should be independent of this object (which is being cloned). To achieve this independence, it may be necessary to modify one or more fields of the object returned by super.clone before returning it. Typically, this means copying any mutable objects that comprise the internal "deep structure" of the object being cloned and replacing the references to these objects with references to the copies. If a class contains only primitive fields or references to immutable objects, then it is usually the case that no fields in the object returned by super.clone need to be modified. <p> The method clone for class Object performs a specific cloning operation. First, if the class of this object does not implement the interface Cloneable, then a CloneNotSupportedException? is thrown. Note that all arrays are considered to implement the interface Cloneable. Otherwise, this method creates a new instance of the class of this object and initializes all its fields with exactly the contents of the corresponding fields of this object, as if by assignment; the contents of the fields are not themselves cloned. Thus, this method performs a "shallow copy" of this object, not a "deep copy" operation. <p> The class Object does not itself implement the interface Cloneable, so calling the clone method on an object whose class is Object will result in throwing an exception at run time. @return a clone of this instance. @exception CloneNotSupportedException? if the object's class does not

support the Cloneable interface. Subclasses that override the clone method can also throw this exception to indicate that an instance cannot be cloned.

@see java.lang.Cloneable