Welcome to Lesson 13!

Learning Objectives
By the end of today's lesson, you should be able to answer the following questions...
  • What is a counting loop?
  • What are the three important components of a counting loop?
  • What is a for loop and why was it designed?
  • How does a for loop differ from a while loop?
  • What is an off-by-one error and how can you avoid this type of error?
  • What is a nested loop?
  • How do you trace the output of a nested loop?

  • Return Quiz 4
  • Quiz 5 on Thursday
    • 3 repeat questions from Quiz 4
  • Lab 7 due Friday

Review Questions

Find a partner and answer the following question:

Review of While Loops:
  • Label the different parts of the following while loop as: update statement, initialization or test condition.

int count = 1;

while (count <= 10) {



  • Correct the loops below. What will happen if you run the code BEFORE making the corrections?

Loop 1:

String repeat = "y";

while (repeat.equals("y")) {

    System.out.println("Playing an exciting game!\n");

    System.out.println("Want to play again? (y/n): ");


Loop 2:

    int counter = 1;

  while (counter <= 10) {


  • Write the following while loop as the equivalent for loop.

int count = 1;

while (count <= 10) {




Counting Loops

  • Counting is a common task in our lives.
  • In programming, counting is also very common.
  • In our last activity, we saw an example of counting, where we used a while loop to count sheep.
  • In programming we often use loops to count when we know exactly how many times we want a specific piece of code to repeat.
  • In fact, counting is such a common programming task, that a special type of loop was designed specifically for counting.
  • This loop is called a for loop, and we will be learning more about it in class today.

For Statements
  • As previously mentioned, counting is a very common use for loops.
  • Loops that are controlled by a counter variable are called counter-controlled loops.
  • We can visualize a counter-controlled loop as a series of steps to reach a goal.

small picture of someone climbing numbered steps of a stair

Image source.

  • A counter-controlled while loop has the form:
    int i = start;
    while (i < end) {
  • Where:
    • i: the name of a counter variable
    • start: the initial starting value
    • end: the final ending value

  • We can write this same counting loop as a for loop:
    for (int i = start; i < end; i++) {
  • The for loop was especially designed for counting tasks.
    • Notice its compact syntax compared to the while loop.
    • All the conditions which define the loop are on a single line.

  • When writing a counting loop, we often have a choice of using either a for or a while loop, as both will accomplish the same task.
    • However the compact syntax of the for loop makes it preferable.
  • The following example shows the same loop written as both a while loop and a for loop:
//counting from 10 to 20 using a while loop
int i = 10; 
while (i <= 20)

//counting from 10 to 20 using a for loop
for (int i = 10; i <= 20; i++)
  • What differences do you notice in the two loops above?
  • What are the starting values for the loops? Where are they located?
  • Test conditions?
  • Update statements?
  • Notice the use of the semi-colons in the for loop. Which statements end with semi-colon and which do not?

Another For Loop Example

public static void main(String[] args)
    int max = 0;
    Scanner input = new Scanner(System.in);

    System.out.println("This program uses a loop to count!");
    System.out.println("Enter the maximum number: ");
    max = input.nextInt();

    for (int i = 1; i <= max; i++)

Anatomy of the For Loop

  1. When for loop is reached, execute the initialize statement (starting point).
    1. This initialization step occurs only once.
    2. Note that i is the most common choice for our counting variable.
    3. Ex above: int i = 1;
  2. Check if condition is true.
    1. This occurs right after initialization, and after every iteration. 
    2. Ex above: i <= max;
    3. if true then continue with Step 3
    4. Otherwise it is false  continue with Step 6
  3. Execute the block containing the statements to repeat (body)
  4. When the end of each iteration of the loop body is reached, execute the update statement.
    1. This occurs at the end of every completed iteration.
    2. Ex above: i++;
  5. Return to Step 2
  6. The loop is finished when the test condition becomes false
    1. Continue with statements after the loop

Diagram of for Loop Operation

C++ for loop

Image source.

Group Activity: Altering a For Loop

  • With your partner: Copy and paste the below for loop into an Eclipse project called Loopy2
  • Now, try altering the for loop to see if you can achieve the following results:
    • Can you make the loop print out the numbers from 0 up to and including the max?
    • Can you make it print out the numbers from 0, up to, but not including, the max?
    • Can you make it count up by 2s to the max?
    • Can you make the loop count down from the max to 0?

 * @author
import java.util.Scanner;

public class Loopy2 {

     * @param args the command line arguments
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        int max = 0;
        Scanner input = new Scanner(System.in);
        System.out.println("This program uses a loop to count!\n");
        System.out.print("Enter the maximum number: ");
        max = input.nextInt();

        for (int i = 1; i <= max; i++)

Activity 13.1: Counting Down Part 3 (10 pts)
  • Find a partner for pair programming
  • Open up your Countdown.java file from last class in Eclipse.
  • Locate the while loop in your code.
  • Alter this while loop to be a for loop.
  • Hint: Make sure that your for loop has 3 parts:
    • initialization (where do you want to start counting)
    • test condition (when should the loop fail?)
    • update statement (are you counting up or down here?)
  • Compile and run your program and verify that you still get the following output:
NASA Mission Control readying for liftoff.
Initializing countdown from 10...
We have liftoff!
  • Submit your program to Canvas when you are finished.

Applications of For Loops
  • We can use for loops in two ways:
  1. To repeat a task a specified number of times, where the task performed is not dependent on the counter.
    1. For example, making a bar graph (below).
  2. To repeat a task a specified number of times, where the task performed is dependent on the value of the counter.
    1. For example, summing a sequence of numbers (below).

Making Bar Graphs
  • We can use a counting loop to make a horizontal bar graph
  • Instead of displaying a number, we will display a series of "*" characters for the "bar"
  • Thus, all we need to change is the print statement:
    to become:
  • We can see this change in the following example:

Example Application That Displays a Bar Chart

public static void main(String[] args) {

int number = 0;
Scanner input = new Scanner(System.in);

System.out.print("Enter a number and I will show its"
             + " bar graph.\nEnter your number: ");
number = input.nextInt();

System.out.println("\nBar graph:");
for (int i = 0; i < number; i++) {


Summing Numbers

  • One common looping task is to input a list of numbers and calculate their sum
  • For example, if we want to add the sum of the first four integers:
    sum = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10
  • As another example, we can add a list of 5 numbers:
    sum = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15
  • We can generalize our examples to sum from 0 to any number n.

Example Application to Sum a Sequence of Numbers

public static void main(String[] args) {

int number = 0;
int sum = 0;
Scanner input = new Scanner(System.in);

System.out.print("Enter the number to sum to: ");
number = input.nextInt();

for (int i = 1; i <= number; i++) {
    sum = sum + i; //using the counter as a value to add to my sum

System.out.println("The sum is: " + sum);


Activity 13.2: Tracing a Loop (10 pts)

In this exercise, we will trace the execution of the following for loop.

for (int i = 10; i <= 15; i++)
    if (i == 11 || i == 13 || i== 15)

  • Find a partner. Then, open up a text editor such as Word or Notepad (Not Eclipse) and create a new document called tracing.doc or tracing.txt.
  • In the text editor write both your names at the top of the program.
  • Then, type what the output of the above for loop would be to the console.
  • Note, you should do this without running the code. 
  • Then, change the statement i <=15 to be i < 15.
  • Draw the output of the for loop with this alteration.
  • How is it different?
  • The instructor will be going over the examples so you can verify your answers and understanding.
  • Don't forget to upload your text document before the end of class.

More Loopy Errors

  • A common problem with counting loops is the off-by-one error
  • Finding the correct upper and lower bounds can be confusing
    • Should you start at 0 or 1?
    • Are you counting up to a number (<), or up to and including a number (<=)?
  • To understand the counting loop you need to count iterations.
  • For instance, the following loop executes b - a times:
    for (int i = a; i < b; i++)
  • However, the following loop is executed b - a + 1 times:
    for (int i = a; i <= b; i++)
  • The "+1" is the source of many errors
  • For example, to sum the numbers from 1 to 5, what is wrong with the following:
    public static void main(String[] arg)
        int sum = 0;
        for (int count = 0; count < 5; count++)
            sum += count;
  • One way to visualize the "+1" error is by looking at a fence

Image source.

  • How many posts do you need for a fence with three sections?
  • It is easy to be "off-by-one" with problems like this
  • Forgetting to count the last value is sometimes called a fence-post error

Debugging Technique: Tracing Variables

  • One good way to discover loopy errors is to display the variables that are part of the loop
  • Tracing variables means watching their values change as the program executes
  • You can insert temporary output statements in your program to watch the variables, like:
    System.out.println("count= " + count + ", sum=" + sum);

Activity 13.3: Summing and Averaging (10 pts)

  • Let's write a program that uses a for loop to sum a list of numbers and computer their average.
  • Open up a new Eclipse project called Sum with a class named Sum.java.
  • First, declare and initialize 3 variables at the top of main:

  • Next, write a print statement to display a welcome message to the user:

Give me a list of numbers and I will compute their sum and average!

  • We will need to know the number of user inputs in advance so that we will know the ending condition of our for loop (in other words, how many numbers the user is planning to input).
  • Prompt the user to enter the quantity of numbers and read in the value to a variable named quantity:
    System.out.print("Enter the quantity of numbers: ");
    quantity = input.nextInt();
  • Next, we will write a for loop to read in that number of user inputs.
for (int i = 1; i <= quantity; i++) {
    //body of loop goes here
  • Inside the loop we ask for each value and add it to the sum
    System.out.print("Enter value #" + i + ": ");
    number = input.nextDouble();
    sum = sum + number; //add number to our running total for the sum
  • The for loop will take care of adding up all of the numbers and storing the result in the sum variable.
  • Finally, below the for loop, we can print out the sum, and also compute the average.
  • Add a print statement to print the sum. Note that we will print both sum and average out to two decimal places.
System.out.printf("The sum of the numbers is: %.2f\n", sum);
  • Then, add a second print statement to print out the average.
  • Recall that the formula for calculating the average is:
  • Therefore, we can computer the average by dividing sum by quantity.

System.out.printf("The average of the numbers is: %.2f\n", (sum / quantity));

  • When your program is correctly displaying the sum and average as in the example output below, submit your work to Canvas.

Example Output

Your Program Should Look Identical to the Following:

Activity 13.4: Unicode (10 pts)

In this exercise we continue exploring some uses of counter-controlled loops.


Recall that a char data type is stored by the computer as a number using Unicode (Unicode Table). Since a char is stored as an int by the computer, Java lets you cast an int to a char.

int count = 65;
System.out.println((char) count); //What does the (char) do?

This casting feature lets us construct our own Unicode table.


  • Find a partner for pair programming.
  • Copy and paste the starter code into a file called Unicode.java

public static void main(String[] args) {
        //displaying the characters from 33 to 122
        for (int i = ???; i <=???; i++) {
  • Alter the for-loop so that it counts from 33 to 122
  • Inside the for-loop, alter the System.out.println statement as follows:
  • Compile and run your modified program and make sure your output looks like:
    (some output not shown)
    65      A
    66      B
    67      C
    (more output not shown)
  • When you are finished, play around with the starting and ending values of your for loop.
  • Submit the final version of your file to Canvas when you are finished.

Wrap Up

  • With your partner, answer the questions from today's learning objectives

Upcoming Assignments
  • Assignment 13 due Thursday at 1:20pm on Canvas
  • Lab 7 due Friday at midnight

~See You Thursday!~