Lambda Expressions: An Introduction in Java 8

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Lambda expressions were one of the new features that was introduced in Java 8.

They help clean up verbose code by providing a concise and local way to reduce redundancy by keeping code short and self-explanatory.

In addition to saving code, Java’s lambda expressions are important in functional programming. They allow developers to write in a functional style by acting as functions without belonging to any class.

Lambda expressions allow us to implement functional interfaces by converting them into instances of functional interfaces. This provides a reference to the function. For example, a lambda passed as a parameter is indistinguishable to calling an implemented interface method). Thus, the references are used effectively as a function type object that can be passed and called on.

Syntax

([argument-list]) -> {body} 

Lambda expressions have an optional argument list and a body

Functional Interfaces

  • A functional interface is an interface with only one abstract method
  • Lambdas are matched to functional interfaces, allowing the compiler to interpret the type of the variables in the argument list
  • The parameters of the lambda expression must match the parameters of the single method and the return type of the lambda must match the return type of the single method
@FunctionalInterface
public interface Comparator<T> {
    int compare(T o1, T o2);
}

Anonymous classes were used as a workaround for passing references to functions, that is, compare in this case

Comparator<Person> descName = new Comparator<Person>() {
    @Override
    int compare(Person o1, Person o2) {
        return o1.getName().compareTo(o2.getName());
    }
}

Lambda expressions have allowed us to replace the verbose anonymous classes with short, concise, and functional expressions that serve the same purpose.

Comparator<Person> descName =
    (o1, o2) -> o1.getName().compareTo(o2.getName());

Note: (o1, o2) and o1.getName().compareTo(o2.getName()) matches up with the parameter list and return type of the compare method in the Comparator<Person> interface.

Method References as Lambdas

If a lambda expression just calls another method then a more concise way to write the call is to use a method reference.

public interface MyPrinter{
    public void print(String s);
}

MyPrinter myPrinter = System.out::println;

The :: signals a method reference, where the object/class comes before it and the method that belongs to that class comes after.

Hopefully these tips provide you with a useful introduction to coding functional Java programs. Happy coding and happy blogging!

Knoldus Banner

Leave a Reply