These are my notes on Lecture 2 of CS194A by Rahul Pandey about the fundamental features of Kotlin language including Immutability, Type Inference and Nullability.

I have not actually taken the course since I’m not in Stanford but I’m following the course on youtube. Below are my main takeaways and learnings from the lecture.

You can watch the full lecture on youtube:

Android Dev - Lecture 2 - Intro to Kotlin

  • The fundamental principle in programming is DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself). The more lines of code you write the more bugs will arise.
  • A “ternary statement” allows you to assign one value to the variable if a condition is true, and another value if the condition is false. Here’s an example (from the BiggerNumber game code) of how it works in kotlin:

      val isAnswerCorrect:Boolean = if (isLeftButtonSelected) leftNum > rightNum else rightNum > leftNum
  • Here’s the complete code for the simple app that we didn’t finish in the last lecture: BiggerNumberWWCode
  • In Android Studio, creat a File > New > New Project > Empty Activity. This will create a project which does not create an android app but allows us to work with just Kotlin code.

Hello World

No need of boilerplate code like we have in Java:

fun main() {
	println("Hello World")

Type Inference

The proper way to declare a variable in Kotlin is this:

val first: String = "Niel Armstrong"

But you can just write this val first = "Niel Armstrong" and Kotlin automatically infers the Type of that variable.

Arrays in Kotlin

  • Arrays in Kotlin are called Lists, here’s how you create a list in Kotlin:

      val myList = listOf(23,45,67)
  • Three ways to print the last element of a list:

      // Method 1
      println(myList.get(mylist.size - 1))
      // Method 2
      println(myList[myList.size - 1])
      // Method 3


  • Immutable are objects or variables whose value cannot be changed once assigned. Kotlin gives us two keywords for declaring variables, var and val. You can write var x = 23 or val x = 23. The difference is that when you use val , you create immutable variables i.e they have fixed, unchangeable values.
  • Immutability is useful for safety. It also makes you program more reilient to unexpected output or even crashes.
  • Using the listOf() method creates, read-only (or immutable) lists. To create lists whose contents can be modified, we use mutableListOf() method:

      val myList2 = mutableListOf(56,78,32)
  • Notice the contradiction in the above code?


  • Tony Hoare is credited with the invention of “NULL” and called it his “billion-dollar mistake”.
  • NULL is a place-holder for an object that doesn’t exist yet.
  • In Kotlin you can use the ? operator to handle null values, for example if :

      var a: String = "abc" // Regular initialization means non-null by default
      a = null // compilation error
      var b: String? = "abc" // can be set to null
      b = null // ok

“when” statement in Kotlin

  • when expression is the equivalent of switch in other languages like C++ and Java. Example:

      var grade = when(score) {
      				in 90..100 -> "A"
      				in 80..89 -> "B"
      				in 70..79 -> "C"
              else -> "D"
  • In the above code, .. operator is used to create ranges of value. Writing i in 90..100 is equivalent to 1 <= i && i <= 4 .