public abstract int compare (T o1, T o2)

Compares its two arguments for order. Returns a negative integer, zero, or a positive integer as the first argument is less than, equal to, or greater than the second.

In the foregoing description, the notation sgn(expression) designates the mathematical signum function, which is defined to return one of -1, 0, or 1 according to whether the value of expression is negative, zero or positive.

The implementor must ensure that sgn(compare(x, y)) == -sgn(compare(y, x)) for all x and y. (This implies that compare(x, y) must throw an exception if and only if compare(y, x) throws an exception.)

The implementor must also ensure that the relation is transitive: ((compare(x, y)>0) && (compare(y, z)>0)) implies compare(x, z)>0.

Finally, the implementor must ensure that compare(x, y)==0 implies that sgn(compare(x, z))==sgn(compare(y, z)) for all z.

It is generally the case, but not strictly required that (compare(x, y)==0) == (x.equals(y)). Generally speaking, any comparator that violates this condition should clearly indicate this fact. The recommended language is "Note: this comparator imposes orderings that are inconsistent with equals."

Parameters:
o1    the first object to be compared.
o2    the second object to be compared.

Returns:  a negative integer, zero, or a positive integer as the first argument is less than, equal to, or greater than the second.

Exceptions:
NullPointerException    if an argument is null and this comparator does not permit null arguments
ClassCastException    if the arguments' types prevent them from being compared by this comparator.