Java Functional Programming Examples: Java Explained

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Functional programming (FP) is a programming paradigm that emphasizes the creation of data abstractions by composing functions, rather than forming the abstraction from a low-level data representation. It is a powerful programming technique that stands out from traditional programming paradigms and can be used to create software that is easier to reason about, optimize for performance, and more maintainable than traditional imperative code. This article will explain what functional programming is, how it can be used in Java, and illustrate the techniques with examples.

Introduction to Functional Programming in Java

Functional programming is an alternative to traditional software development methods such as procedural and object-oriented approaches. It is based on a combination of mathematical principles and immutability, which are designed to simplify the development and debugging process. In this programming approach, the goal is to maximize clarity, robustness, and efficiency by using smaller and more isolated functions as building blocks.

In Java, functional programming relies heavily on the use of lambdas, which are function literals expressed in a concise syntax for defining single-purpose functions. Lambdas allow developers to write succinct code following a declarative style of programming. Additionally, the use of streams in Java helps to easily process collections, and the library provides methods such as map(), filter(), reduce(), etc., to further support functional programming.

Functional programming in Java also enables developers to create more concise and maintainable code. By using higher-order functions, developers can create more abstract and reusable code, which can be used to reduce the amount of code needed to solve a problem. Additionally, the use of immutable data structures helps to reduce the complexity of debugging, as the data is not modified during the program’s execution.

Benefits of Functional Programming

Functional programming has several attractive features, making it an ideal choice for many situations. In particular, it allows developers to write code that is more elegant and concise than traditional imperative code. It also improves maintainability by making code easier to test, understand, reason about, and modify without worrying about side effects. Additionally, with its techniques around immutability and avoiding modifying state, functional programming helps to minimize bugs in complex systems and supports clean multi-threaded programs.

Functional programming also encourages the use of declarative programming, which allows developers to focus on what the code should do, rather than how it should do it. This makes it easier to read and understand, and can help to reduce the amount of code needed to achieve a given task. Furthermore, functional programming can help to reduce the amount of time needed to debug code, as it is easier to identify the source of a bug when the code is written in a functional style.

Writing Functional Code with Java

Lambda expressions are the core of functional programming in Java. A lambda expression is a block of code that can be passed around just like a regular object. It has three primary pieces: parameters, a body, and an arrow symbol that separates the parameters from the body. The body can contain any valid Java expression, including variable declarations, numerical computations, multiple lines of code, objects creation, and so on. The key benefit of a lambda is that it allows for the creation of one-time functions that don’t have side effects and can be used in many different places.

In addition to lambdas, Java 8 introduced several APIs that can be used for functional programming. These include Streams, which enable developers to expression operations on collections of data in a declarative fashion. Other APIs such as Optional and CompletableFuture enable developers to simplify complex asynchronous programming tasks. Finally, the library contains a set of utility methods such as map(), filter(), reduce(), etc., that enable developers to write concise code to process collections.

Lambda Expressions and Streams

Lambda expressions are the centerpiece of functional programming in Java. As mentioned previously, a lambda takes two parts: the parameters and the body, separated by an arrow symbol. A lambda can be used in place of a method definition when the method’s sole purpose is to serve as an abstraction. This makes the code more concise and easier to read. Additionally, lambdas can be passed to methods or used within expressions.

Streams are also essential when writing functional code in Java. Streams provide an abstraction for performing operations on collections of data without explicitly manipulating them. This allows developers to write succinct code that removes manual iteration of collections. Additionally, Streams allow for operations to be chained together in an elegant manner with minimal code.

Declarative Style of Programming

Functional programming encourages a declarative style of programming that is focused on composing data transformations from existing functions instead of coding every detail from scratch. In this style, the code specifies what operations are needed rather than how they should be performed. This means that the developers don’t need to think about the mechanism for performing the underlying operations; instead, they can trust the library implementation to take care of them.

Java 8 Closures and Function Types

In addition to lambda expressions, Java 8 also introduced several other features specifically for functional programming. These include closures and function types. A closure is an expression that, when evaluated, will capture values from enclosing scopes and preserve them for later use. This allows developers to define persistent pieces of code without requiring them to explicitly copy variables into their environment.

Java also defines a set of standard function types such as Predicate, Function, and Supplier that serve as parameterized “abstractions” or “functors” for specific types of behavior. These types can be used instead of raw Lambda expressions or Stream operations, providing both flexibility and readability benefits.

Leveraging Java Libraries for Functional Programming

Java has a wealth of libraries specifically designed for functional programming. These libraries provide many useful utilities for working with collections, designing domain-specific languages (DSLs), performing lazy evaluation, and so on. Examples include libraries such as Google Guava, Apache Commons Lang, Vavr, and functional-java.

Examples of Functional Programming in Java

The best way to understand Functional Programming in Java is to look at some code examples. First we will look at using Lambda Expressions to handle complex logic. Consider the code snippet below which uses a lambda expression to generate a list of all numbers greater than 10 from a given list.

List<Integer> numbers = Arrays.asList(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9);List<Integer> greaterThan10 =    .filter(n -> n > 10)    .collect(Collectors.toList());

Next we will look at using Streams to reduce complexity from code involving collections. The following example shows how Streams can be used to find the sum of all numbers in an array:

int[] numbers = {1, 2, 3, 4};int sum =    .reduce(0, (a, b) -> a + b);

Best Practices for Optimizing Performance with Functional Programming

When writing functional code it is important to keep performance optimization in mind. To get the most out of functional programming it is important to leverage immutable objects whenever possible as this avoids introducing unexpected bugs due to shared state. Additionally leveraging lazy evaluation techniques helps reduce unnecessary computations and keeps memory requirements low.

Summary: Why Use Functional Programming in Java?

Functional Programming offers many advantages over traditional imperative programming paradigms due to its focus on declarative style programming, smaller building blocks composed from functions instead of classes and methods, strong support for immutability and abstraction through lambda expressions and streams. All these features make it uniquely suited for situations in which concise code with high performance is necessary.

Anand Das

Anand Das

Anand is Co-founder and CTO of Bito. He leads technical strategy and engineering, and is our biggest user! Formerly, Anand was CTO of Eyeota, a data company acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. He is co-founder of PubMatic, where he led the building of an ad exchange system that handles over 1 Trillion bids per day.

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