SOLID Design Principles – Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP)


Liskov Substitution Principle can be considered to be an extension of the Open / Closed principle which states the base class reference should be replaceable by the child class without changing the functionality.


Let us assume that we implemented a Rectangle class with height, width properties and getArea method. Alone it will function perfectly fine.


Now we would like to have a similar functionality for a Square as well, so instead on reinventing the wheel we will simply inherit from the Rectangle class and customize the functionality for a square.


But now if we replace the reference of the parent class by the child class then we will not the correct area for the rectangle since we have change the core functions (setHeight, setWidth) to set the height and width to same value which is not true in case of rectangle. Hence we have violated the Liskov Substitution principle.


Area of the rectangle = 2400 where Height = 40 and Width = 60


Area of the rectangle = 3600 where Height = 60 and Width = 60

It is clear that the Square type is not substitutable for the Rectangle. LSP states that we should be able to the child classes should be able to extend the base classes without changing their existing functionality and we are violating that in this implementation as our square class is changing the behavior of the rectangle class.

Generally speaking the non-substitutable code will break polymorphism.

We can fix this code by creating a class (Shape) from which both Rectangle and Square inherit from. So as we could see in the code below, we have created an abstract class shape with an abstract method GetArea.

We will now inherit this class in Rectangle and Square and provide the individual implementation of GetArea.

We could use the Shape class to get the area of the shapes.


Area of the rectangle shape = 2400

Area of the square shape = 1600

So now the parent class is substitutable by the child classes without changing any existing functionality and so we are not violating the Liskov Substitution Principle.


Find the complete source code for this post at googledrive or skydrive.

Any questions comments and feedback are most welcome.