Basic Types

In Kotlin, everything is an object in the sense that we can call member functions and properties on any variable. Some of the types can have a special internal representation - for example, numbers, characters and booleans can be represented as primitive values at runtime - but to the user they look like ordinary classes. In this section we describe the basic types used in Kotlin: numbers, characters, booleans, arrays, and strings.


Kotlin provides a set of built-in types that represent numbers.
For integer numbers, there are four types with different sizes and, hence, value ranges.

Type Size (bits) Min value Max value
Byte 8 -128 127
Short 16 -32768 32767
Int 32 -2,147,483,648 (-231) 2,147,483,647 (231 - 1)
Long 64 -9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (-263) 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 (263 - 1)

All variables initialized with integer values not exceeding the maximum value of Int have the inferred type Int. If the initial value exceeds this value, then the type is Long. To specify the Long value explicitly, append the suffix L to the value.

val one = 1 // Int
val threeBillion = 3000000000 // Long
val oneLong = 1L // Long
val oneByte: Byte = 1

For floating-point numbers, Kotlin provides types Float and Double. According to the IEEE 754 standard, floating point types differ by their decimal place, that is, how many decimal digits they can store. Float reflects the IEEE 754 single precision, while Double provides double precision.

Type Size (bits) Significant bits Exponent bits Decimal digits
Float 32 24 8 6-7
Double 64 53 11 15-16

For variables initialized with fractional numbers, the compiler infers the Double type. To explicitly specify the Float type for a value, add the suffix f or F. If such a value contains more than 6-7 decimal digits, it will be rounded.

val pi = 3.14 // Double
val e = 2.7182818284 // Double
val eFloat = 2.7182818284f // Float, actual value is 2.7182817

Note that unlike some other languages, there are no implicit widening conversions for numbers in Kotlin. For example, a function with a Double parameter can be called only on Double values, but not Float, Int, or other numeric values.

fun main() {
    fun printDouble(d: Double) { print(d) }

    val i = 1    
    val d = 1.1
    val f = 1.1f 

//    printDouble(i) // Error: Type mismatch
//    printDouble(f) // Error: Type mismatch

To convert numeric values to different types, use Explicit conversions.

Literal constants

There are the following kinds of literal constants for integral values:

  • Decimals: 123
    • Longs are tagged by a capital L: 123L
  • Hexadecimals: 0x0F
  • Binaries: 0b00001011

NOTE: Octal literals are not supported.

Kotlin also supports a conventional notation for floating-point numbers:

  • Doubles by default: 123.5, 123.5e10
  • Floats are tagged by f or F: 123.5f

Underscores in numeric literals (since 1.1)

You can use underscores to make number constants more readable:

val oneMillion = 1_000_000
val creditCardNumber = 1234_5678_9012_3456L
val socialSecurityNumber = 999_99_9999L
val hexBytes = 0xFF_EC_DE_5E
val bytes = 0b11010010_01101001_10010100_10010010


On the Java platform, numbers are physically stored as JVM primitive types, unless we need a nullable number reference (e.g. Int?) or generics are involved. In the latter cases numbers are boxed.

Note that boxing of numbers does not necessarily preserve identity:

fun main() {
    val a: Int = 100
    val boxedA: Int? = a
    val anotherBoxedA: Int? = a
    val b: Int = 10000
    val boxedB: Int? = b
    val anotherBoxedB: Int? = b
    println(boxedA === anotherBoxedA) // true
    println(boxedB === anotherBoxedB) // false

On the other hand, it preserves equality:

fun main() {
    val a: Int = 10000
    println(a == a) // Prints 'true'
    val boxedA: Int? = a
    val anotherBoxedA: Int? = a
    println(boxedA == anotherBoxedA) // Prints 'true'

Explicit conversions

Due to different representations, smaller types are not subtypes of bigger ones. If they were, we would have troubles of the following sort:

// Hypothetical code, does not actually compile:
val a: Int? = 1 // A boxed Int (java.lang.Integer)
val b: Long? = a // implicit conversion yields a boxed Long (java.lang.Long)
print(b == a) // Surprise! This prints "false" as Long's equals() checks whether the other is Long as well

So equality would have been lost silently all over the place, not to mention identity.

As a consequence, smaller types are NOT implicitly converted to bigger types. This means that we cannot assign a value of type Byte to an Int variable without an explicit conversion

fun main() {
    val b: Byte = 1 // OK, literals are checked statically
    val i: Int = b // ERROR

We can use explicit conversions to widen numbers

fun main() {
    val b: Byte = 1
    val i: Int = b.toInt() // OK: explicitly widened

Every number type supports the following conversions:

  • toByte(): Byte
  • toShort(): Short
  • toInt(): Int
  • toLong(): Long
  • toFloat(): Float
  • toDouble(): Double
  • toChar(): Char

Absence of implicit conversions is rarely noticeable because the type is inferred from the context, and arithmetical operations are overloaded for appropriate conversions, for example

val l = 1L + 3 // Long + Int => Long


Kotlin supports the standard set of arithmetical operations over numbers (+ - * / %), which are declared as members of appropriate classes (but the compiler optimizes the calls down to the corresponding instructions). See Operator overloading.

Division of integers

Note that division between integers always returns an integer. Any fractional part is discarded. For example:

fun main() {
    val x = 5 / 2
    //println(x == 2.5) // ERROR: Operator '==' cannot be applied to 'Int' and 'Double'
    println(x == 2)

This is true for a division between any two integer types.

fun main() {
    val x = 5L / 2
    println(x == 2L)

To return a floating-point type, explicitly convert one of the arguments to a floating-point type.

fun main() {
    val x = 5 / 2.toDouble()
    println(x == 2.5)

Bitwise operations

As for bitwise operations, there're no special characters for them, but just named functions that can be called in infix form, for example:

val x = (1 shl 2) and 0x000FF000

Here is the complete list of bitwise operations (available for Int and Long only):

  • shl(bits) – signed shift left
  • shr(bits) – signed shift right
  • ushr(bits) – unsigned shift right
  • and(bits) – bitwise and
  • or(bits) – bitwise or
  • xor(bits) – bitwise xor
  • inv() – bitwise inversion

Floating point numbers comparison

The operations on floating point numbers discussed in this section are:

  • Equality checks: a == b and a != b
  • Comparison operators: a < b, a > b, a <= b, a >= b
  • Range instantiation and range checks: a..b, x in a..b, x !in a..b

When the operands a and b are statically known to be Float or Double or their nullable counterparts (the type is declared or inferred or is a result of a smart cast), the operations on the numbers and the range that they form follow the IEEE 754 Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic.

However, to support generic use cases and provide total ordering, when the operands are not statically typed as floating point numbers (e.g. Any, Comparable<...>, a type parameter), the operations use the equals and compareTo implementations for Float and Double, which disagree with the standard, so that:

  • NaN is considered equal to itself
  • NaN is considered greater than any other element including POSITIVE_INFINITY
  • -0.0 is considered less than 0.0


Characters are represented by the type Char. They can not be treated directly as numbers

fun check(c: Char) {
    if (c == 1) { // ERROR: incompatible types
        // ...

Character literals go in single quotes: '1'. Special characters can be escaped using a backslash. The following escape sequences are supported: \t, \b, \n, \r, \', \", \\ and \$. To encode any other character, use the Unicode escape sequence syntax: '\uFF00'.

We can explicitly convert a character to an Int number:

fun decimalDigitValue(c: Char): Int {
    if (c !in '0'..'9')
        throw IllegalArgumentException("Out of range")
    return c.toInt() - '0'.toInt() // Explicit conversions to numbers

Like numbers, characters are boxed when a nullable reference is needed. Identity is not preserved by the boxing operation.


The type Boolean represents booleans, and has two values: true and false.

Booleans are boxed if a nullable reference is needed.

Built-in operations on booleans include

  • || – lazy disjunction
  • && – lazy conjunction
  • ! - negation


Arrays in Kotlin are represented by the Array class, that has get and set functions (that turn into [] by operator overloading conventions), and size property, along with a few other useful member functions:

class Array<T> private constructor() {
    val size: Int
    operator fun get(index: Int): T
    operator fun set(index: Int, value: T): Unit

    operator fun iterator(): Iterator<T>
    // ...

To create an array, we can use a library function arrayOf() and pass the item values to it, so that arrayOf(1, 2, 3) creates an array [1, 2, 3]. Alternatively, the arrayOfNulls() library function can be used to create an array of a given size filled with null elements.

Another option is to use the Array constructor that takes the array size and the function that can return the initial value of each array element given its index:

fun main() {
    // Creates an Array<String> with values ["0", "1", "4", "9", "16"]
    val asc = Array(5) { i -> (i * i).toString() }
    asc.forEach { println(it) }

As we said above, the [] operation stands for calls to member functions get() and set().

Arrays in Kotlin are invariant. This means that Kotlin does not let us assign an Array<String> to an Array<Any>, which prevents a possible runtime failure (but you can use Array<out Any>, see Type Projections).

Primitive type arrays

Kotlin also has specialized classes to represent arrays of primitive types without boxing overhead: ByteArray, ShortArray, IntArray and so on. These classes have no inheritance relation to the Array class, but they have the same set of methods and properties. Each of them also has a corresponding factory function:

val x: IntArray = intArrayOf(1, 2, 3)
x[0] = x[1] + x[2]
// Array of int of size 5 with values [0, 0, 0, 0, 0]
val arr = IntArray(5)

// e.g. initialise the values in the array with a constant
// Array of int of size 5 with values [42, 42, 42, 42, 42]
val arr = IntArray(5) { 42 }

// e.g. initialise the values in the array using a lambda
// Array of int of size 5 with values [0, 1, 2, 3, 4] (values initialised to their index value)
var arr = IntArray(5) { it * 1 } 

Unsigned integers

Unsigned types are available only since Kotlin 1.3 and currently in Beta. See details below

Kotlin introduces following types for unsigned integers:

  • kotlin.UByte: an unsigned 8-bit integer, ranges from 0 to 255
  • kotlin.UShort: an unsigned 16-bit integer, ranges from 0 to 65535
  • kotlin.UInt: an unsigned 32-bit integer, ranges from 0 to 2^32 - 1
  • kotlin.ULong: an unsigned 64-bit integer, ranges from 0 to 2^64 - 1

Unsigned types support most of the operations of their signed counterparts.

Note that changing type from unsigned type to signed counterpart (and vice versa) is a binary incompatible change

Unsigned types are implemented using another feature that's not yet stable, namely inline classes.

Specialized classes

Same as for primitives, each of unsigned type has corresponding type that represents array, specialized for that unsigned type:

  • kotlin.UByteArray: an array of unsigned bytes
  • kotlin.UShortArray: an array of unsigned shorts
  • kotlin.UIntArray: an array of unsigned ints
  • kotlin.ULongArray: an array of unsigned longs

Same as for signed integer arrays, they provide similar API to Array class without boxing overhead.

Also, ranges and progressions supported for UInt and ULong by classes kotlin.ranges.UIntRange, kotlin.ranges.UIntProgression, kotlin.ranges.ULongRange, kotlin.ranges.ULongProgression


To make unsigned integers easier to use, Kotlin provides an ability to tag an integer literal with a suffix indicating a specific unsigned type (similarly to Float/Long):

  • suffixes u and U tag literal as unsigned. Exact type will be determined based on the expected type. If no expected type is provided, UInt or ULong will be chosen based on the size of literal
val b: UByte = 1u  // UByte, expected type provided
val s: UShort = 1u // UShort, expected type provided
val l: ULong = 1u  // ULong, expected type provided

val a1 = 42u // UInt: no expected type provided, constant fits in UInt
val a2 = 0xFFFF_FFFF_FFFFu // ULong: no expected type provided, constant doesn't fit in UInt
  • suffixes uL and UL explicitly tag literal as unsigned long.
val a = 1UL // ULong, even though no expected type provided and constant fits into UInt

Beta status of unsigned integers

The design of unsigned types is in Beta, meaning that its compatibility is best-effort only and not guaranteed. When using unsigned arithmetics in Kotlin 1.3+, a warning will be reported, indicating that this feature has not been released as stable. To remove the warning, you have to opt in for usage of unsigned types.

There are two possible ways to opt-in for unsigned types: with requiring an opt-in for your API, or without doing that.

  • To propagate the opt-in requirement, annotate declarations that use unsigned integers with @ExperimentalUnsignedTypes.
  • To opt-in without propagating, either annotate declarations with @OptIn(ExperimentalUnsignedTypes::class) or pass -Xopt-in=kotlin.ExperimentalUnsignedTypes to the compiler.

It's up to you to decide if your clients have to explicitly opt-in into usage of your API, but bear in mind that unsigned types are not a stable feature, so API which uses them can be broken by changes in the language.

See also the Opt-in Requirements API KEEP for technical details.

Further discussion

See language proposal for unsigned types for technical details and further discussion.


Strings are represented by the type String. Strings are immutable. Elements of a string are characters that can be accessed by the indexing operation: s[i]. A string can be iterated over with a for-loop:

fun main() {
val str = "abcd"
for (c in str) {

You can concatenate strings using the + operator. This also works for concatenating strings with values of other types, as long as the first element in the expression is a string:

fun main() {
val s = "abc" + 1
println(s + "def")

Note that in most cases using string templates or raw strings is preferable to string concatenation.

String literals

Kotlin has two types of string literals: escaped strings that may have escaped characters in them and raw strings that can contain newlines and arbitrary text. Here's an example of an escaped string:

val s = "Hello, world!\n"

Escaping is done in the conventional way, with a backslash. See Characters above for the list of supported escape sequences.

A raw string is delimited by a triple quote ("""), contains no escaping and can contain newlines and any other characters:

val text = """
    for (c in "foo")

You can remove leading whitespace with trimMargin() function:

val text = """
    |Tell me and I forget.
    |Teach me and I remember.
    |Involve me and I learn.
    |(Benjamin Franklin)

By default | is used as margin prefix, but you can choose another character and pass it as a parameter, like trimMargin(">").

String templates

String literals may contain template expressions, i.e. pieces of code that are evaluated and whose results are concatenated into the string. A template expression starts with a dollar sign ($) and consists of either a simple name:

fun main() {
    val i = 10
    println("i = $i") // prints "i = 10"

or an arbitrary expression in curly braces:

fun main() {
    val s = "abc"
    println("$s.length is ${s.length}") // prints "abc.length is 3"

Templates are supported both inside raw strings and inside escaped strings. If you need to represent a literal $ character in a raw string (which doesn't support backslash escaping), you can use the following syntax:

val price = """

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Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.