Java 8 Lambda Expression Part  1


  • What is and Why Lambda Expression (or simply Lambda)?
  • Lambda implementation in Java
  • What is Functional interface?
  • Lambda expression syntax in Java 8

What is and Why Lambda Expression?

  • A formal system for “expressing computational behavior” (or “parameterizing behavior”)
    • Through functions (function objects)
  • Function objects are first-class citizens
    • Function object can be assigned to a variable
    • Function object can be passed to a method as an argument
    • Function object can be returned as a return value
  • Many modern programming languages support Lambda expression
    • JavaScript, List, Scheme
    • Ruby, Scala, Clojure
  • Java 8 now supports Lambda expression
    • Biggest language change since Generics of Java SE 5

Why Lambda?

  • Let you declare what to do, not how to do it
    • Cleaner, more concise, more expressive code
    • High productivity, flexible, “fluent” style programming is possible
  • Promotes immutability
    • Less concurrency issues
  • Enables parallel programming & lazy evaluation
    • Higher performance
  • Forms the basis of functional programming paradigm
    • When functional programming is used, many set of problems are easier to solve, and results in cleaner code
  • Richer collection APIs possible
    • Stream API
    • New methods in Iterable<T>, List<T>, and Map<K,V>

Java 8 Implementationof Lambda Expressionof Lambda Expression

Lambda: Concept vs. Implementation

  • Lambda expression is a concept
    • Different programming languages have different implementations of Lambda expression
  • You, as a Java developer, need to learn both
    • General concept of Lambda expression and
    • How Java 8 implements Lambda expression

Java 8 Implementation of Lambda

  • In Java, a Lambda expression is implemented essentially as an anonymous function
    • A Lambda expression is considered as a instance of a functional interface (an interface with a single abstract method)
    • The type of Lambda expression is indeed that functional interface
  • There is no native “function” type (unlike in other languages), however, in Java 8 Lambda implementation
    • This is a deliberate decision by Java 8 Lambda designers

Usage Areas of Lambda in Java Programs

  • Replacement of anonymous inner class
  • Event handling
  • Iteration over list
  • Parallel processing of collection elements at the API level
  • Functional programming
  • Streams

What is a Functional Interface (FI)?

  • A regular Java interface with a single (abstract) method
    • It is common in Java programs
    • Sometimes called Single Abstract Method (SAM)
  • Just like any other Java interface, it can be used as a reference type (type of a variable or type of an argument)
    • MyFunctionalInterface x = (x, y) -> x+y;
  • Even though it is a Java interface, it represents a function
    • The arguments and the body of the method represents a function
    • (arguments) -> {code block}

FI is simply an Interface with a single method

In fact, previous versions of Java (Java 7 and earlier versions) have several functional interfaces already

// Runnable interface
public interface Runnable {
public abstract void run();
// ActionListener interface
public interface ActionListener extends EventListener {
public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e);
}// Comparator interface
public interface Comparator<T> {
int compare(T o1, T o2);
boolean equals(Object o);// This is not considered as an abstract method

Backward Compatibility

  • Any interface with a single method is considered as a functional interface by Java 8
  • Java 8 Lambda works with old libraries that use functional interfaces without any need to recompile or modification of them

@FunctionalInterface Annotation 

When used, Java 8 compiler produces an error if the interface has more than one method - helps developers at compile time (just like @Override annotation helps developers find at compile time incorrect method name )

public interface MyInterface {
 public String myMethod();
// Generates Invalid @FunctionalInterface compile error
public interface MyInterface {
 public String myMethod();
 public String myMethod2();

Where to use Lambda Expression in Java app?

  • Concept 
    • You use Lambda expression wherever a functional behavior is required 
  • Java app 
    • You can use Lambda expression in any place where the functional interface type is expected 
  • Examples 
    • You can assign a lambda expression to a variable whose type is a functional interface 
    • You can pass a lambda expression to a method as an argument whose type is a functional interface

 Example #1: Variable is functional interface type

  •  Let's say we have a functional interface
public interface Calculator {
 int calculate(int x, int y);
  • A variable whose type is a functional interface can be assigned with a lambda expression
Calculator multiply = (x,y) -> x*y;
Calculator divide = (x,y) ->x/y;
int product = multiply.calculate(50,10);
int quotient = divide.calculate(50,10);

Example #2: An argument is functional interface

Let's say we have a functional interface (same as in prev. slide)

public interface Calculator {
 int calculate(int x, int y);

Types of arguments are functional interface

public static void myMethod(Calculator m, Calculator d){
 int product = m.calculate(60, 10);
 int quotient = d.calculate(60, 10);
 System.out.println("product = " + product + " quotient = " + quotient);

Pass lambda expressions as arguments of a method

myMethod((x,y)->x+y, (x,y)->x/y);

Lab: Exercise 1: Functional Interface

Anonymous Inner Class Replaced by Lambda

  • Given that typical usage of anonymous inner class is an example of an argument whose type is a functional interface, you can now replace it with a Lambda expression 
    • In Java programs (of pre-Java 8 versions), anonymous inner class has been used as a kludge solution for passing a functional behavior (before Lambda is available in Java 8) 
  • The current code what uses Anonymous Inner class can be simplified through the usage of Lambda 
    • Just take the arguments and code block with following Lambda syntax removing everything else
    • (arguments) -> {code block}

Example #1: Runnable

Anonymous Runnable replaced by Lambda

// Anonymous Runnable
Runnable r1 = new Runnable() {
 public void run() {
// Just take arguments and body to make lambda expression
 System.out.println("Hello world one!"); 
// Lambda Runnable
Runnable r2 = () -> System.out.println("Hello world two!");;

Example #2: Action Listener

Anonymous ActionListener replaced by Lambda

// Anonymous ActionListener
testButton1.addActionListener(new ActionListener() {
 public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent event) {
// just take arguments and body to make lambda expression
 System.out.println("Click Detected by Anonymous Listener");
// Lambda ActionListener
testButton2.addActionListener(event -> System.out.println("Click Detected by Lambda

Example #3: Comparator 

Anonymous Comparator replaced by Lambda

// Anonymous Comparator
Collections.sort(personList, new Comparator<Person>(){
 public int compare(Person p1, Person p2){
//just take arguments and body to make lambda expresison
 return p1.getSurName().compareTo(p2.getSurName());
// Lambda Comparator
Collections.sort(personList, (Person p1, Person p2) →

Lab: Exercise 2: Rewriting Anonymous Inner Class with Lambda Expression

Lambda Expression Syntax in Java

Lambda Expression Syntax 

  • General syntax 
    • (argument list) -> { code block} 
  • Syntax can be simplified in the following ways 
    • #1: Type inferencing for the arguments 
    • #2: Omitting parentheses for a single argument 
    • #3: When a body has only a single expression - (1) no need to use return, (2) no need to use semi-colon, (3) no need to use curly braces {..}

#1: Type inferencing for the arguments 

  • Types in argument list can be omitted 
  • Java compiler already knows the types of the arguments from the single method signature of the functional interface of the lambda expression
// Instead of this
(String myArg1, Integer myArg2) → {... }
// You can do this because types of the arguments can be inferred by the compiler
(myArg1, myArg2) → {… }

#2: Single argument with no ( )

If there is a single argument, parentheses ( ) are optional

// Instead of this
(myArg1) → {... }
// You can do this because there is a single argument
myArg1 → {… }

#3: When body has only a single expression

  • When the body (code block) has only a single expression, the value of the expression automatically becomes a return value 
    • No need to specify return statement 
    • No need to use semi-colon at the end 
    • No need to enclose the expression with { } 
  • If the body has multi-line code, then no simplification is allowed
// Instead of this
(myArg1, myArg2) → { return (someExpression); }
// You can do this because the body has only a single expression
(myArg1, myArg2) → someExpression

Simplification Examples of Lambda Expression

(int x, int y) -> { return x+y;}
 (x,y) -> { return x+y;}
 (x,y) -> x+y
 x -> x*2
() -> System.out.println(“Hello, world!”)
//You have to use curly braces{}and user return statement because there are multiple statements
x -> { System.out.println(x);
 return x*2; }

Lab: Exercise 3: Lambda Expression Syntax Simplification


Download Course Content