Common Java ArrayList Manipulation Constructs

ArrayList data structures (also called Dynamic Arrays) are a frequently used programming function. ArrayLists have an advantage over arrays - ArrayLists are not fixed in size and can be dynamically changed by adding and deleting elements. Below are some common Java array manipulation constructs. For an overview of working with Java lists, look here.

Creating a new ArrayList

Creating a new ArrayList is coded as shown below using the String type with an initial capacity of 20 entries:

ArrayList mArrayList = new ArrayList<String>(int 20);

Constructing an ArrayList from an Existing List

The example below shows how to construct an ArrayList from the individual words in a String using an intermediary List object. Notice that the sequence of objects created is: String -> String array -> List -> ArrayList

String wordString = "this is a string of words";
String[] wordsArray = wordString.split(" ");
List<String> wordsList = Arrays.asList(wordsArray);
ArrayList wordsArrayList = new ArrayList<String>(wordsList);

add( )

The example below shows how to use the ArrayList add() method to add a String to wordsArrayList::


indexOf( )

The example below shows how to use the indexOf() ArrayList method find the index of an entry:

int index = wordsArrayList.indexOf("Example2");

remove( )

The example below shows how to use the ArrayList remove() method using the entry index or the entry itself:


sort( )

The Collections sort() methods provide a variety of options for sorting ArrayList entries. Note that the ArrayList is sorted in place without returning a new ArrayList. This can be done because the array parameter is a value pointing to the ArrayList of objects. For example, the following statement would sort the words ArrayList from the example above using a modified MergeSort algorithm in an average O(n log(n)) time performance:


binarySearch( )

The Collections binarySearch() methods provide an efficient way to find an entry in a sorted ArrayList. For example, the following statement would find the index of the wordsArrayList entry for the String Example1 in an average of O(log(n)) time performance:

int entryIndex = Collections.binarySearch(wordsArrayList, "Example1");

iterator( )

The Iterator Class and ArrayList interator() method can be used to iterate over the entries of an ArrayList as shown in the example below :

Iterator mIterator = wordsArrayList.iterator();