It just so happens that I wrote a BigFraction class not too long ago, for Project Euler problems. It keeps a BigInteger numerator and denominator, so it'll never overflow. But it'll be a tad slow for a lot of operations that you know will never overflow.. anyway, use it if you want it. I've been dying to show this off somehow. :)

Edit : Latest and greatest version of this code, including unit tests is now hosted on GitHub and also available via Maven Central. I'm leaving my original code here so that this answer isn't just a link...


import java.math.*;

/**
 * Arbitrary-precision fractions, utilizing BigIntegers for numerator and
 * denominator.  Fraction is always kept in lowest terms.  Fraction is
 * immutable, and guaranteed not to have a null numerator or denominator.
 * Denominator will always be positive (so sign is carried by numerator,
 * and a zero-denominator is impossible).
 */
public final class BigFraction extends Number implements Comparable<BigFraction>
{
  private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L; //because Number is Serializable
  private final BigInteger numerator;
  private final BigInteger denominator;

  public final static BigFraction ZERO = new BigFraction(BigInteger.ZERO, BigInteger.ONE, true);
  public final static BigFraction ONE = new BigFraction(BigInteger.ONE, BigInteger.ONE, true);

  /**
   * Constructs a BigFraction with given numerator and denominator.  Fraction
   * will be reduced to lowest terms.  If fraction is negative, negative sign will
   * be carried on numerator, regardless of how the values were passed in.
   */
  public BigFraction(BigInteger numerator, BigInteger denominator)
  {
    if(numerator == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Numerator is null");
    if(denominator == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Denominator is null");
    if(denominator.equals(BigInteger.ZERO))
      throw new ArithmeticException("Divide by zero.");

    //only numerator should be negative.
    if(denominator.signum() < 0)
    {
      numerator = numerator.negate();
      denominator = denominator.negate();
    }

    //create a reduced fraction
    BigInteger gcd = numerator.gcd(denominator);
    this.numerator = numerator.divide(gcd);
    this.denominator = denominator.divide(gcd);
  }

  /**
   * Constructs a BigFraction from a whole number.
   */
  public BigFraction(BigInteger numerator)
  {
    this(numerator, BigInteger.ONE, true);
  }

  public BigFraction(long numerator, long denominator)
  {
    this(BigInteger.valueOf(numerator), BigInteger.valueOf(denominator));
  }

  public BigFraction(long numerator)
  {
    this(BigInteger.valueOf(numerator), BigInteger.ONE, true);
  }

  /**
   * Constructs a BigFraction from a floating-point number.
   * 
   * Warning: round-off error in IEEE floating point numbers can result
   * in answers that are unexpected.  For example, 
   *     System.out.println(new BigFraction(1.1))
   * will print:
   *     2476979795053773/2251799813685248
   * 
   * This is because 1.1 cannot be expressed exactly in binary form.  The
   * given fraction is exactly equal to the internal representation of
   * the double-precision floating-point number.  (Which, for 1.1, is:
   * (-1)^0 * 2^0 * (1 + 0x199999999999aL / 0x10000000000000L).)
   * 
   * NOTE: In many cases, BigFraction(Double.toString(d)) may give a result
   * closer to what the user expects.
   */
  public BigFraction(double d)
  {
    if(Double.isInfinite(d))
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("double val is infinite");
    if(Double.isNaN(d))
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("double val is NaN");

    //special case - math below won't work right for 0.0 or -0.0
    if(d == 0)
    {
      numerator = BigInteger.ZERO;
      denominator = BigInteger.ONE;
      return;
    }

    final long bits = Double.doubleToLongBits(d);
    final int sign = (int)(bits >> 63) & 0x1;
    final int exponent = ((int)(bits >> 52) & 0x7ff) - 0x3ff;
    final long mantissa = bits & 0xfffffffffffffL;

    //number is (-1)^sign * 2^(exponent) * 1.mantissa
    BigInteger tmpNumerator = BigInteger.valueOf(sign==0 ? 1 : -1);
    BigInteger tmpDenominator = BigInteger.ONE;

    //use shortcut: 2^x == 1 << x.  if x is negative, shift the denominator
    if(exponent >= 0)
      tmpNumerator = tmpNumerator.multiply(BigInteger.ONE.shiftLeft(exponent));
    else
      tmpDenominator = tmpDenominator.multiply(BigInteger.ONE.shiftLeft(-exponent));

    //1.mantissa == 1 + mantissa/2^52 == (2^52 + mantissa)/2^52
    tmpDenominator = tmpDenominator.multiply(BigInteger.valueOf(0x10000000000000L));
    tmpNumerator = tmpNumerator.multiply(BigInteger.valueOf(0x10000000000000L + mantissa));

    BigInteger gcd = tmpNumerator.gcd(tmpDenominator);
    numerator = tmpNumerator.divide(gcd);
    denominator = tmpDenominator.divide(gcd);
  }

  /**
   * Constructs a BigFraction from two floating-point numbers.
   * 
   * Warning: round-off error in IEEE floating point numbers can result
   * in answers that are unexpected.  See BigFraction(double) for more
   * information.
   * 
   * NOTE: In many cases, BigFraction(Double.toString(numerator) + "/" + Double.toString(denominator))
   * may give a result closer to what the user expects.
   */
  public BigFraction(double numerator, double denominator)
  {
    if(denominator == 0)
      throw new ArithmeticException("Divide by zero.");

    BigFraction tmp = new BigFraction(numerator).divide(new BigFraction(denominator));
    this.numerator = tmp.numerator;
    this.denominator = tmp.denominator;
  }

  /**
   * Constructs a new BigFraction from the given BigDecimal object.
   */
  public BigFraction(BigDecimal d)
  {
    this(d.scale() < 0 ? d.unscaledValue().multiply(BigInteger.TEN.pow(-d.scale())) : d.unscaledValue(),
         d.scale() < 0 ? BigInteger.ONE                                             : BigInteger.TEN.pow(d.scale()));
  }

  public BigFraction(BigDecimal numerator, BigDecimal denominator)
  {
    if(denominator.equals(BigDecimal.ZERO))
      throw new ArithmeticException("Divide by zero.");

    BigFraction tmp = new BigFraction(numerator).divide(new BigFraction(denominator));
    this.numerator = tmp.numerator;
    this.denominator = tmp.denominator;
  }

  /**
   * Constructs a BigFraction from a String.  Expected format is numerator/denominator,
   * but /denominator part is optional.  Either numerator or denominator may be a floating-
   * point decimal number, which in the same format as a parameter to the
   * <code>BigDecimal(String)</code> constructor.
   * 
   * @throws NumberFormatException  if the string cannot be properly parsed.
   */
  public BigFraction(String s)
  {
    int slashPos = s.indexOf('/');
    if(slashPos < 0)
    {
      BigFraction res = new BigFraction(new BigDecimal(s));
      this.numerator = res.numerator;
      this.denominator = res.denominator;
    }
    else
    {
      BigDecimal num = new BigDecimal(s.substring(0, slashPos));
      BigDecimal den = new BigDecimal(s.substring(slashPos+1, s.length()));
      BigFraction res = new BigFraction(num, den);
      this.numerator = res.numerator;
      this.denominator = res.denominator;
    }
  }

  /**
   * Returns this + f.
   */
  public BigFraction add(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    //n1/d1 + n2/d2 = (n1*d2 + d1*n2)/(d1*d2) 
    return new BigFraction(numerator.multiply(f.denominator).add(denominator.multiply(f.numerator)),
                           denominator.multiply(f.denominator));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this + b.
   */
  public BigFraction add(BigInteger b)
  {
    if(b == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    //n1/d1 + n2 = (n1 + d1*n2)/d1
    return new BigFraction(numerator.add(denominator.multiply(b)),
                           denominator, true);
  }

  /**
   * Returns this + n.
   */
  public BigFraction add(long n)
  {
    return add(BigInteger.valueOf(n));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this - f.
   */
  public BigFraction subtract(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    return new BigFraction(numerator.multiply(f.denominator).subtract(denominator.multiply(f.numerator)),
                           denominator.multiply(f.denominator));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this - b.
   */
  public BigFraction subtract(BigInteger b)
  {
    if(b == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    return new BigFraction(numerator.subtract(denominator.multiply(b)),
                           denominator, true);
  }

  /**
   * Returns this - n.
   */
  public BigFraction subtract(long n)
  {
    return subtract(BigInteger.valueOf(n));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this * f.
   */
  public BigFraction multiply(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    return new BigFraction(numerator.multiply(f.numerator), denominator.multiply(f.denominator));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this * b.
   */
  public BigFraction multiply(BigInteger b)
  {
    if(b == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    return new BigFraction(numerator.multiply(b), denominator);
  }

  /**
   * Returns this * n.
   */
  public BigFraction multiply(long n)
  {
    return multiply(BigInteger.valueOf(n));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this / f.
   */
  public BigFraction divide(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    if(f.numerator.equals(BigInteger.ZERO))
      throw new ArithmeticException("Divide by zero");

    return new BigFraction(numerator.multiply(f.denominator), denominator.multiply(f.numerator));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this / b.
   */
  public BigFraction divide(BigInteger b)
  {
    if(b == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    if(b.equals(BigInteger.ZERO))
      throw new ArithmeticException("Divide by zero");

    return new BigFraction(numerator, denominator.multiply(b));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this / n.
   */
  public BigFraction divide(long n)
  {
    return divide(BigInteger.valueOf(n));
  }

  /**
   * Returns this^exponent.
   */
  public BigFraction pow(int exponent)
  {
    if(exponent == 0)
      return BigFraction.ONE;
    else if (exponent == 1)
      return this;
    else if (exponent < 0)
      return new BigFraction(denominator.pow(-exponent), numerator.pow(-exponent), true);
    else
      return new BigFraction(numerator.pow(exponent), denominator.pow(exponent), true);
  }

  /**
   * Returns 1/this.
   */
  public BigFraction reciprocal()
  {
    if(this.numerator.equals(BigInteger.ZERO))
      throw new ArithmeticException("Divide by zero");

    return new BigFraction(denominator, numerator, true);
  }

  /**
   * Returns the complement of this fraction, which is equal to 1 - this.
   * Useful for probabilities/statistics.

   */
  public BigFraction complement()
  {
    return new BigFraction(denominator.subtract(numerator), denominator, true);
  }

  /**
   * Returns -this.
   */
  public BigFraction negate()
  {
    return new BigFraction(numerator.negate(), denominator, true);
  }

  /**
   * Returns -1, 0, or 1, representing the sign of this fraction.
   */
  public int signum()
  {
    return numerator.signum();
  }

  /**
   * Returns the absolute value of this.
   */
  public BigFraction abs()
  {
    return (signum() < 0 ? negate() : this);
  }

  /**
   * Returns a string representation of this, in the form
   * numerator/denominator.
   */
  public String toString()
  {
    return numerator.toString() + "/" + denominator.toString();
  }

  /**
   * Returns if this object is equal to another object.
   */
  public boolean equals(Object o)
  {
    if(!(o instanceof BigFraction))
      return false;

    BigFraction f = (BigFraction)o;
    return numerator.equals(f.numerator) && denominator.equals(f.denominator);
  }

  /**
   * Returns a hash code for this object.
   */
  public int hashCode()
  {
    //using the method generated by Eclipse, but streamlined a bit..
    return (31 + numerator.hashCode())*31 + denominator.hashCode();
  }

  /**
   * Returns a negative, zero, or positive number, indicating if this object
   * is less than, equal to, or greater than f, respectively.
   */
  public int compareTo(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    //easy case: this and f have different signs
    if(signum() != f.signum())
      return signum() - f.signum();

    //next easy case: this and f have the same denominator
    if(denominator.equals(f.denominator))
      return numerator.compareTo(f.numerator);

    //not an easy case, so first make the denominators equal then compare the numerators 
    return numerator.multiply(f.denominator).compareTo(denominator.multiply(f.numerator));
  }

  /**
   * Returns the smaller of this and f.
   */
  public BigFraction min(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    return (this.compareTo(f) <= 0 ? this : f);
  }

  /**
   * Returns the maximum of this and f.
   */
  public BigFraction max(BigFraction f)
  {
    if(f == null)
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Null argument");

    return (this.compareTo(f) >= 0 ? this : f);
  }

  /**
   * Returns a positive BigFraction, greater than or equal to zero, and less than one.
   */
  public static BigFraction random()
  {
    return new BigFraction(Math.random());
  }

  public final BigInteger getNumerator() { return numerator; }
  public final BigInteger getDenominator() { return denominator; }

  //implementation of Number class.  may cause overflow.
  public byte   byteValue()   { return (byte) Math.max(Byte.MIN_VALUE,    Math.min(Byte.MAX_VALUE,    longValue())); }
  public short  shortValue()  { return (short)Math.max(Short.MIN_VALUE,   Math.min(Short.MAX_VALUE,   longValue())); }
  public int    intValue()    { return (int)  Math.max(Integer.MIN_VALUE, Math.min(Integer.MAX_VALUE, longValue())); }
  public long   longValue()   { return Math.round(doubleValue()); }
  public float  floatValue()  { return (float)doubleValue(); }
  public double doubleValue() { return toBigDecimal(18).doubleValue(); }

  /**
   * Returns a BigDecimal representation of this fraction.  If possible, the
   * returned value will be exactly equal to the fraction.  If not, the BigDecimal
   * will have a scale large enough to hold the same number of significant figures
   * as both numerator and denominator, or the equivalent of a double-precision
   * number, whichever is more.
   */
  public BigDecimal toBigDecimal()
  {
    //Implementation note:  A fraction can be represented exactly in base-10 iff its
    //denominator is of the form 2^a * 5^b, where a and b are nonnegative integers.
    //(In other words, if there are no prime factors of the denominator except for
    //2 and 5, or if the denominator is 1).  So to determine if this denominator is
    //of this form, continually divide by 2 to get the number of 2's, and then
    //continually divide by 5 to get the number of 5's.  Afterward, if the denominator
    //is 1 then there are no other prime factors.

    //Note: number of 2's is given by the number of trailing 0 bits in the number
    int twos = denominator.getLowestSetBit();
    BigInteger tmpDen = denominator.shiftRight(twos); // x / 2^n === x >> n

    final BigInteger FIVE = BigInteger.valueOf(5);
    int fives = 0;
    BigInteger[] divMod = null;

    //while(tmpDen % 5 == 0) { fives++; tmpDen /= 5; }
    while(BigInteger.ZERO.equals((divMod = tmpDen.divideAndRemainder(FIVE))[1]))
    {
      fives++;
      tmpDen = divMod[0];
    }

    if(BigInteger.ONE.equals(tmpDen))
    {
      //This fraction will terminate in base 10, so it can be represented exactly as
      //a BigDecimal.  We would now like to make the fraction of the form
      //unscaled / 10^scale.  We know that 2^x * 5^x = 10^x, and our denominator is
      //in the form 2^twos * 5^fives.  So use max(twos, fives) as the scale, and
      //multiply the numerator and deminator by the appropriate number of 2's or 5's
      //such that the denominator is of the form 2^scale * 5^scale.  (Of course, we
      //only have to actually multiply the numerator, since all we need for the
      //BigDecimal constructor is the scale.
      BigInteger unscaled = numerator;
      int scale = Math.max(twos, fives);

      if(twos < fives)
        unscaled = unscaled.shiftLeft(fives - twos); //x * 2^n === x << n
      else if (fives < twos)
        unscaled = unscaled.multiply(FIVE.pow(twos - fives));

      return new BigDecimal(unscaled, scale);
    }

    //else: this number will repeat infinitely in base-10.  So try to figure out
    //a good number of significant digits.  Start with the number of digits required
    //to represent the numerator and denominator in base-10, which is given by
    //bitLength / log[2](10).  (bitLenth is the number of digits in base-2).
    final double LG10 = 3.321928094887362; //Precomputed ln(10)/ln(2), a.k.a. log[2](10)
    int precision = Math.max(numerator.bitLength(), denominator.bitLength());
    precision = (int)Math.ceil(precision / LG10);

    //If the precision is less than 18 digits, use 18 digits so that the number
    //will be at least as accurate as a cast to a double.  For example, with
    //the fraction 1/3, precision will be 1, giving a result of 0.3.  This is
    //quite a bit different from what a user would expect.
    if(precision < 18)
      precision = 18;

    return toBigDecimal(precision);
  }

  /**
   * Returns a BigDecimal representation of this fraction, with a given precision.
   * @param precision  the number of significant figures to be used in the result.
   */
  public BigDecimal toBigDecimal(int precision)
  {
    return new BigDecimal(numerator).divide(new BigDecimal(denominator), new MathContext(precision, RoundingMode.HALF_EVEN));
  }

  //--------------------------------------------------------------------------
  //  PRIVATE FUNCTIONS
  //--------------------------------------------------------------------------

  /**
   * Private constructor, used when you can be certain that the fraction is already in
   * lowest terms.  No check is done to reduce numerator/denominator.  A check is still
   * done to maintain a positive denominator.
   * 
   * @param throwaway  unused variable, only here to signal to the compiler that this
   *                   constructor should be used.
   */
  private BigFraction(BigInteger numerator, BigInteger denominator, boolean throwaway)
  {
    if(denominator.signum() < 0)
    {
      this.numerator = numerator.negate();
      this.denominator = denominator.negate();
    }
    else
    {
      this.numerator = numerator;
      this.denominator = denominator;
    }
  }

}