Collection Framework in Java

The Collection Framework is a set of classes and interfaces

  • Helps in handling groups of objects
  • Standardizes the way in which groups of objects are handled
  • The important interfaces of the Collection Framework are
    • Collection
    • List
    • Queue
    • Set
    • SortedSet
  • All these interfaces are generic interfaces
  • Collection interface declares the methods that any Collection should have
  • Any class that defines a Collection should implement this interface
  • Some of the important methods are
    • add
    • remove
    • contains
    • isEmpty


  • List interface extends Collection interface
  • List interface declares the behavior of a Collection that stores a sequence of elements
  • Elements can be inserted and accessed by their position
  • Some of the important methods are
    • add (adds to the specified position)
    • get (gets from the specified position)
    • indexOf


  • Set interface extends Collection interface
  • Set interface declares the behavior of a Collection that does not allow duplicate elements
    • Does not declare any new method on its own
    • The add method returns false if a program attempts to insert a duplicate element
  • SortedSet interface extends Set interface
  • SortedSet interface declares the behavior of a Set sorted in the ascending order
  • Some of the important methods are
    • first
    • last
  • The Collection Framework provides some classes that have already implemented the Collection interfaces
  • Some important Collection classes are
    • ArrayList
    • LinkedList
    • HashSet
    • LinkedHashSet
  • Moreover, programmers can create Collection classes by implementing the collection interfaces or extending the collection classes



  • An Iterator object is used to access the elements of a Collection, one element at a time
  • Iterator standardizes the way in which elements are accessed from a Collection
    • Invoke the method iterator() of the collection object that returns an Iterator
    • Invoke the method next() of the iterator object that returns the next element
    • Invoke the method hasNext() of the iterator object to check whether there are more elements in the collection object
public void printAll(Collection<String> collection){
Iterator<String> iterator = collection.iterator();


  • Collections that implement List has a method listIterator() that returns a ListIterator object
  • ListIterator extends Iterator and has extra methods
    • previous
    • hasPrevious
    • nextIndex
    • previousIndex


Enhanced For Loop

The for-each version of the for loop can also be used to access the elements of a collection

for(String element : collection){


  • A map stores associations between keys and values
    • Keys and Values are Objects
    • Given a key, its value can be found
    • Keys must be unique, values can be repeated
  • A class that defines the behavior of a map should implement the Map interface
  • Some of the important methods are
    • get
    • put
  • A Map is not a collection
    • An iterator cannot be obtained for a Map
    • The for-each loop cannot be used with a Map
  • A collection-view of a Map can be obtained
    • The method values return a Collection view of a Map
  • SortedMap interface extends Map interface
  • The elements are maintained in the ascending order of the keys
  • Java provides some classes that have already implemented the Map interfaces
  • Some important Map classes are
    • HashMap
    • TreeMap
    • LinkedHashMap
  • The Collection Framework defines several algorithms that can be applied to collections and maps
  • These algorithms are defined as static methods in a class called Collections
    • binarySearch
    • reverse
    • sort etc..



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