Asked  7 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   38 times

I have an ArrayList that I want to output completely as a String. Essentially I want to output it in order using the toString of each element separated by tabs. Is there any fast way to do this? You could loop through it (or remove each element) and concatenate it to a String but I think this will be very slow.



Java 8 introduces a String.join(separator, list) method; see Vitalii Federenko's answer.

Before Java 8, using a loop to iterate over the ArrayList was the only option:

DO NOT use this code, continue reading to the bottom of this answer to see why it is not desirable, and which code should be used instead:

ArrayList<String> list = new ArrayList<String>();

String listString = "";

for (String s : list)
    listString += s + "t";


In fact, a string concatenation is going to be just fine, as the javac compiler will optimize the string concatenation as a series of append operations on a StringBuilder anyway. Here's a part of the disassembly of the bytecode from the for loop from the above program:

   61:  new #13; //class java/lang/StringBuilder
   64:  dup
   65:  invokespecial   #14; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder."<init>":()V
   68:  aload_2
   69:  invokevirtual   #15; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
   72:  aload   4
   74:  invokevirtual   #15; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
   77:  ldc #16; //String t
   79:  invokevirtual   #15; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
   82:  invokevirtual   #17; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.toString:()Ljava/lang/String;

As can be seen, the compiler optimizes that loop by using a StringBuilder, so performance shouldn't be a big concern.

(OK, on second glance, the StringBuilder is being instantiated on each iteration of the loop, so it may not be the most efficient bytecode. Instantiating and using an explicit StringBuilder would probably yield better performance.)

In fact, I think that having any sort of output (be it to disk or to the screen) will be at least an order of a magnitude slower than having to worry about the performance of string concatenations.

Edit: As pointed out in the comments, the above compiler optimization is indeed creating a new instance of StringBuilder on each iteration. (Which I have noted previously.)

The most optimized technique to use will be the response by Paul Tomblin, as it only instantiates a single StringBuilder object outside of the for loop.

Rewriting to the above code to:

ArrayList<String> list = new ArrayList<String>();

StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
for (String s : list)


Will only instantiate the StringBuilder once outside of the loop, and only make the two calls to the append method inside the loop, as evidenced in this bytecode (which shows the instantiation of StringBuilder and the loop):

   // Instantiation of the StringBuilder outside loop:
   33:  new #8; //class java/lang/StringBuilder
   36:  dup
   37:  invokespecial   #9; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder."<init>":()V
   40:  astore_2

   // [snip a few lines for initializing the loop]
   // Loading the StringBuilder inside the loop, then append:
   66:  aload_2
   67:  aload   4
   69:  invokevirtual   #14; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
   72:  pop
   73:  aload_2
   74:  ldc #15; //String t
   76:  invokevirtual   #14; //Method java/lang/StringBuilder.append:(Ljava/lang/String;)Ljava/lang/StringBuilder;
   79:  pop

So, indeed the hand optimization should be better performing, as the inside of the for loop is shorter and there is no need to instantiate a StringBuilder on each iteration.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

like this:

var foo = 45;
var bar = '' + foo;

Actually, even though I typically do it like this for simple convenience, over 1,000s of iterations it appears for raw speed there is an advantage for .toString()

See Performance tests here (not by me, but found when I went to write my own):

Fastest based on the JSPerf test above: str = num.toString();

It should be noted that the difference in speed is not overly significant when you consider that it can do the conversion any way 1 Million times in 0.1 seconds.

Update: The speed seems to differ greatly by browser. In Chrome num + '' seems to be fastest based on this test

Update 2: Again based on my test above it should be noted that Firefox 20.0.1 executes the .toString() about 100 times slower than the '' + num sample.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

What I don't understand is why it doesn't create an "empty" list of size 7, with null values at each index, similar to what would happen if we declared String[] myArray = new String[7].

That would be useful in some cases... and not useful in others. Quite often you have an upper bound of the size of list you're going to create (or at least a guess) but then you populate it... and you don't want to have a list which then has the wrong size... so you'd have to maintain an index while you "set" values, and then set the size afterwards.

I recall learning that ArrayList is Java's implementation of a dynamic array, so I'd expect a similar sort of behavior.

No, it's really not. It's a list which can be resized and uses an array behind the scenes. Try not to think of it as an array.

If I don't actually have space for 7 Strings allocated when I declare new ArrayList<String>(7), what is actually happening?

You do have space for 7 string references. The buffer size (i.e. the capacity) is at least 7, but the logical size of the list is still 0 - you haven't added anything to it. It's like you've got a sheet of paper that's long enough for 7 lines, but you haven't written anything yet.

If you want a prefilled list, you can easily write a method to create one:

public static List<T> createPrefilledList(int size, T item) {
    ArrayList<T> list = new ArrayList<T>(size);
    for (int i = 0; i < size; i++) {
    return list;
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

For Scala >= 2.11

For Scala < 2.11:"n")

does pretty much the same thing. Not sure why you want to get lines and then glue them all back together, though. If you can assume the stream's nonblocking, you could just use .available, read the whole thing into a byte array, and create a string from that directly.

Sunday, August 8, 2021
answered 4 Months ago

The order of return is dependent on an internal hashing algorithm, to which you are supposed to be indifferent. (The idea behind the hashing algorithm is to disperse key values uniformly across an internal table. You probably get 3 back every time since this algorithm is probably deterministic).

If you want things back in lexographic order then use a TreeSet.

To preserve the order of insertion, use a LinkedHashSet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021
answered 1 Week ago
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