The variable arity (varargs) feature was introduced in JDK v1.5.0 to support methods that accept a variable numbers of arguments.
According to the Java SE 6 documentation [Oracle 2011b],
As an API designer, you should use [variable arity methods] sparingly, only when the benefit is truly compelling. Generally speaking, you should not overload a varargs method, or it will be difficult for programmers to figure out which overloading gets called.
Noncompliant Code Example
In this noncompliant code example, overloading variable arity methods makes it unclear which definition of
displayBooleans() is invoked:
When run, this program outputs
because the nonvariable arity definition is more specific and consequently a better fit for the provided arguments. However, this complexity is best avoided.
To avoid overloading variable arity methods, use distinct method names to ensure that the intended method is invoked, as shown in this compliant solution:
Injudicious use of overloaded variable arity methods may create ambiguity and diminish code readability.
It may be desirable to violate this rule for performance reasons. One such reason would be to avoid the cost of creating an array instance and initializing it on every invocation of a method [Bloch 2008].
When overloading variable arity methods, it is important to avoid any ambiguity regarding which method should be invoked. The preceding code sample avoids the possibility of incorrect method selection by using unambiguous method signatures.
Automated detection is straightforward.
Item 42, "Use Varargs Judiciously"
"Using the Varargs Language Feature"