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Collection in Java

January 8, 2022

Before introducing the collection framework, popular ways of grouping objects were arrays, vectors, and other ways. The only disadvantage of all the collections mentioned above is that they had no standard interface.

When implementing these collections, they have to be defined independently. It also posed a challenge to developers since it was challenging to recall methods, syntax, and constructors present in every class. Therefore, this called for the introduction of the Collection framework.

A developer can now easily access any interface without knowing the code written or the classes involved. Let us now implement the various features mentioned above using collection in Java.

Table of contents


Collection in Java organizes data to make storing, accessing, and editing of data easier. What is an interface? - An Interface is a system where related or unrelated entities can interact.

For our case, the collection of objects created will interact with the library of existing classes, which can be achieved successfully through the interfaces availed by the JDK.

Examples of interfaces include:

  • java.util.Collection - This is the collection interface.
  • java.util.Map - This is the Map interface.

Implementing arrays and vectors

Let us look at how the aforementioned collections were implemented without the collection framework.

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Vector;
public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        ArrayList<String> studentNames = new ArrayList<>();
        Vector<Integer> age = new Vector<>();
        // Creating instances of ArrayList and Vector
        // Adding objects into the containers
        // Outputting the integer and name of the array at the index stated
        //removing a name from the list
        // Checking the output after modifying the objects in the list 


import java.util.Hashtable;
public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Hashtable<Integer, String> students = new Hashtable<>();
        students.put(25, "Stewie");

Methods of the collection interface

Now we will look at some primary methods used in the collection interface:

  • add(Object) - This method adds an object into the collection.
  • contains(Object O) - The output for this is true if a particular object is contained in the collection and false for vice versa. It mainly deals with boolean outputs.
  • isEmpty() - This method also returns a boolean. It outputs true if the collection has an element specified.
  • toArray() - This method converts the elements in the collection into an array.
  • size() - This method checks the size of the elements in a collection.
  • max() - This returns the maximum value in a collection.
  • removeIf(Predicate filter) - This method removes elements in a collection that satisfies a specified predicate.

Diagramatic representation of the collection framework

The collection framework can be categorized into interfaces and classes. On top of the hierarchy stands the iterable interface. This interface acts as a root for all the other interfaces and classes since they all extend this class.

Below the Iterable interface is the collection interface which contains different interfaces such as list, queue, deque, set, and many others. Every interface has different classes that serve different purposes, as shown below:


From the diagram we have seen above. The collection hierarchy diagram consists of interfaces and classes. The interfaces extend other interfaces in the tree towards the tree’s root, which is the Iterable interface.

Let us now take a look at the interfaces individually.

  1. Iterable Interface The iterable interface is the baseline interface in the hierarchy tree. It contains the methods that any class in the hierarchy tree can call.

It can be implemented as shown below.

Iterator<T> iterator()  
  1. Collection Interface You can consider the collection framework as the heart of the collection framework since the method declaration of all classes happens here.

Method in the collection framework include: clear(), add(), size().

  1. Array List This class helps when dealing with dynamic arrays. A dynamic array is an array whose size is unpredictable since it keeps adding up. Other arrays usually have a fixed size where you have to state the number of elements to be stored.

The dynamic array, on the other hand, supports automatic resizing using the resizing.ArrayList method which is located at the java.util package, which means that you import the package every time you want to form an ArrayList.util package. You can achieve this as shown in the example below:

We have further created object names and added a list of names to the array from the above.

  import java.util.ArrayList

In the example above, we have imported java.util package since we will be using its classes when creating the ArrayList.

  import java.util.ArrayList
  ArrayList students = new ArrayList("Bob", "Kimosop", "Keen");

From the snippet above, we have further created object names and added a list of names to the array. We can also add names to the array, as shown below:

  ArrayList students = new ArrayList();

// Output

The difference between the above method of adding elements to the list in the array and the former is that you can add or remove elements during run time.

  1. Set We use a set interface to avoid duplication and store objects uniquely. Some set interface classes are HashSet, Tree set, LinkedHashSet, and many others. Below is a syntax to instantiate the set:
Set<data-type> set1 = new HashSet<data-type>();  
Set<data-type> set2 = new TreeSet<data-type>();  
  1. Hashset The example below will help us understand HashSet better:
import java.util.HashSet;
import java.util.Iterator;
public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        HashSet<String> hashSet = new HashSet<>();
        Iterator<String> itr = hashSet.iterator();
        while (itr.hasNext()) {

We have first instantiated the HashSet class, which automatically imports methods in the HashSet class and Iterator interface. You can now add names easily to the HashSet by calling the hashset.add method. Lastly, instantiate the Iterator interface to import all its methods and decide how to output the names.


In this tutorial, we covered the following.

  1. Introduced and understood Collection.
  2. Implementation of arrays and vectors.
  3. Methods in the Collection interface.
  4. Diagramatic representation of Collection framework.
  5. Interfaces
    • Iterable Interface.
    • Collection Interface
      • List
      • Queue and Deque
      • Set
  6. Classes
    • Array list
    • Hash set.

Happy learning!

Peer Review Contributions by: Briana Nzivu