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Java 8 - Lambda Expression

Java 8 Lambda Expression

What is lambda expression ?

In mathematics and computing generally, a lambda expression is a function for some or all combinations of input values it specifies an output value. Lambda expressions in Java introduce the idea of functions into the language. In conventional Java terms lambdas can be understood as a kind of anonymous method with a more compact syntax that also allows the omission of modifiers, return type, and in some cases parameter types as well.

The problem of bulky syntax is refereed as “Vertical Problem” by Java people and Java 8 provides a Lambda expression to gives a very simple yet powerful functional programming capability to Java.

Functional Interface

Functional interfaces have a single functionality to exhibit. An interface which has only one abstract method is called functional interface. For example, a Comparable interface with a single method ‘compareTo’ is used for comparison purpose. Java 8 has defined a lot of functional interfaces to be used extensively in lambda expressions. Java provides an annotation @FunctionalInterface, which is used to declare an interface as functional interface.


The basic syntax of a lambda is either

(parameters) -> expression
(parameters) -> { statements; }
  • A comma-separated list of formal parameters enclosed in parentheses. It can be empty.
  • The arrow token, -> 
  • Body of the lambda expression contains expression and statements.


Ways to write Lambda Expression

  • (int x, int y) -> x + y    - takes two integers and returns their sum.
  • (x, y) -> x - y                - two numbers and returns their difference.
  • () -> 42                        - takes no values and returns 42.
  • (String s) -> System.out.println(s) - takes a string, prints its value to the console, and returns nothing. 
  • x -> 2 * x                    - takes a number and returns the result of doubling it.
  • c -> { int s = c.size(); c.clear(); return s; } - takes a collection, clears it, and returns its previous size

When ?

Lambda is replacement of Anonymous class? NO, Lambdas are anonymous functions which are designed to eliminate overhead (Constructor and other bulky code) of Anonymous class where it is not required.

Why ?

There are various reasons for addition of lambda expression in Java platform but the most beneficial of them is that we can easily distribute processing of collection over multiple threads. Prior to Java 8, if the processing of elements in a collection had to be done in parallel, the client code was supposed to perform the necessary steps and not the collection. In Java 8, using lambda expression and Stream API we can pass processing logic of elements into methods provided by collections and now collection is responsible for parallel processing of elements and not the client.
Also, parallel processing effectively utilizes multi core CPUs used nowadays


Where ?

Lambda expressions can be used anywhere in Java 8 where we have a target type. In Java, we have target type in the following contexts
  • Variable declarations and assignments
  • Return statements 
  • Method or constructor arguments



1. Calculator  


Example Notes: 

  • MathOperation is the FunctionalInterface having single functionality named operation to perform mathematical operations on two numbers. 
  • Operate method used for the invocation of operation.
  • Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division are the four private methods to perform operation according to their name on two Integers using Lambda Expression with its target and anonymous method named operation.

2. Sorting 

Example to sort employees by their salary

Employee class


Example Notes:

  • We have taken 5 dummy records of employees with its parameters employee code, name and salary.
  • Static function sortEmployees used to sort the employees by comparator using lambda expression.


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