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Hackernoon logoFunctional Programming Techniques in Java with Examples by@brilianfird

Functional Programming Techniques in Java with Examples

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@brilianfirdBrilian Firdaus

Writing about Programing

If you’re a Java developer, I’m sure that you have seen code similar to the featured image snippet above at least once. The code in the snippet above is an example of functional programming paradigm implementation in Java, which will filter and transform the 

List<String>
 in the request to another 
List<String>
.

In this article, I will write about how to write code using Java’s API for functional programming. In the end, we will write our own stream API so we can understand how to implement a functional programming style in Java.

Functional Programming in Java

Functional programming in Java has been around for a long time. When Oracle released Java 8 back in 2014, they introduced lambda expression, which was the core feature for functional programming in Java.

Let’s see an example of the difference between using a sequence of imperative statements and using a functional style in Java.

Imperative declaration code example:

Functional declaration code example:

As we can see, even though both pieces of code achieve the same result, the difference is significant. The imperative declaration code has many curly braces and is much longer, which makes it harder to read, compared to the functional style code.

Functional Interface Annotation

To understand how functional programming works in Java, first we will need to look at the annotation included in Java 8 SDK,

@FunctionalInterface
. We can look at it on the Java API documentation site.

From the API documentation, we can see that the behaviors of a functional interface annotation in Java are:

  • It has exactly one abstract method in it.
  • It can have more than one method, as long as there is only one abstract method.
  • We can only add it to
    Interface
    type.
  • We can create the functional interface with a lambda expression, method references, or constructor references.
  • We don't need to define
    @FunctionalInterface 
    because the compiler will treat any interface meeting the definition of a functional interface as a functional interface.

Now we know what a functional interface all about, we can create it by ourselves.

Let’s first create a model called 

Person
.

For the functional interface, we’ll create 

PersonFunctionalInterface
class.

Note that there are two methods in the interface, but since there is only one abstract method, 

PersonFunctionalInterface
class is valid as a functional interface.

But suppose we define more than one abstract method, like so:

It will produce an error:

Using a Functional Interface

Anonymous class

Let’s first learn about the anonymous class. Java documentation says that:

“Anonymous classes enable you to make your code more concise. They enable you to declare and instantiate a class at the same time. They are like local classes except that they do not have a name. Use them if you need to use a local class only once.”

Basically, with an anonymous class, we don’t have to define a class that implements the interface we made. We can create a class without a name and store it in a variable.

Let’s declare an anonymous class as an example.

What we’ve done here is we created an anonymous class with

PersonFunctionalInterface
 type and 
anonClassExample 
name.

We override the 

createPerson 
abstract method so when we call the method, it will return a new Person object with a name.

When we called 

anonClassExample.createPerson(“Hello, World”)
, we basically just created a new Person object with “Hello, World” as its name.

Creating an Anonymous Class With a Functional Interface

We can start creating the anonymous class of

PersonFunctionalinterface 
for the functional interface we made.

We’ve just implemented the functional interface!

In the code above, we created three anonymous classes in different ways. Remember that the anonymous class has the behavior that we can create a functional interface with a lambda expression, method references, or constructor references.

To make sure we created anonymous classes that behave the same, we assert every method in the interface.

Built-In Functional Interface in Java 8

Java 8 has many built-in functional interface classes in the

java.util.function
 package that we can see in its documentation.

In this article, I will only explain four of the most commonly used functional interfaces, but if you’re interested in more, you can read it in the Java API documentation noted above.

  • Consumer<T>
    : A functional interface that accepts an object and returns nothing.
  • Producer<T>
    : A functional interface that accepts nothing and returns an object.
  • Predicate<T>
    : A functional interface that accepts an object and returns a boolean.
  • Function<T, R>
    : A functional interface that accepts an object and returns another object.

Common Usage

If you’ve been developing with Java a lot, then it’s likely you’ve met the concept of functional interface already.

Stream and optional API

Java’s Stream API uses functional interfaces a lot, as we can see in the code below.

The 

filter 
method has a parameter 
Predicate<T>
 functional interface. As we can see, the method accepts a 
String 
and produce a
boolean
.

The 

map 
method uses 
Function<T, R>
 as its parameter. It accepts a String and also returns 
String
.

The 

forEach 
method in Stream and 
ifPresent 
method in Optional accept 
Consumer<T>
, accepting a 
String 
and not returning anything.

Reactive library

Both of the most popular Java Reactive libraries, RxJava and Reactor, are based on Java 8 Streams API, which means they also use functional interfaces in their code.

If we look at Reactor’s Flux API documentation and RxJava’s Observable API documentation, we can see many of their methods accept a functional interface.

Creating Our Own Stream API

Now that we know how to create and use a functional interface, let’s try creating our own streaming API so we can understand how we can implement the functional interface.

Of course, our streaming API is much simpler than Java’s.

And a test class:

Okay, let’s discuss the methods one by one.

Constructor

We made two constructors, one constructor imitating the

Stream.of()
API and one constructor to convert 
List<T>
 to 
SimpleStream<T>
.

Filter

In this method, we accept

 Predicate<T>
 as a parameter since
Predicate<T>
 has an abstract parameter named 
test
 that accepts an object and produces a
boolean
.

Let’s look at the test class, where we wrote:

This means we wrote an anonymous class implementing 

Predicate<T>
:

So in the 

SimpleStream<T>
 class, we can see the filter method as:

Map

In the map method, we accept 

Function<T, R>
 as its parameter, which means the map method will accept a functional interface that accepts an object and also produces an object.

We wrote the following in the test class

It’s the same as creating an anonymous class implementing 

Function<T, R>
:

And in the 

SimpleStream<T>
 class, we can see it as this:

forEach

The 

forEach 
method accepts 
Consumer<T>
 as its parameter, meaning that it will accept an object and return nothing.

We wrote the following in the test class:

This translates to creating an anonymous class implementing

Consumer<T>
:

In the 

SimpleStream<T>
, we can see the 
forEach
 method, as below:

Conclusion

With the release of Java 8 back in 2014, we can use a functional programming style in Java. Using a functional programming style in Java has many benefits, one of which is making your code shorter and more readable. With the benefits it provides, knowing the implementation of functional programming in Java if you’re a Java developer is a must!

Thanks for reading this article!

You can find the GitHub repository used for this article here:

https://github.com/brilianfird/java-functional-programming

Resources

  1. https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/lang/FunctionalInterface.html
  2. https://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/java/javaOO/anonymousclasses.html
  3. https://www.amitph.com/java-method-and-constructor-reference/#:~:text=Constructor%20Reference%20is%20used%20to,assign%20to%20a%20target%20type.
  4. https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/util/function/package-summary.html
  5. https://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/java/javaOO/lambdaexpressions.html
  6. http://reactivex.io/RxJava/javadoc/
  7. https://projectreactor.io/docs/core/release/api/

Previously published at https://brilianfird.com/blog/programming/functional-programming-in-java-explained-ae396e9e516f/

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