What Is List in Data Structure in Java?


Scott Campbell

A list is a fundamental data structure in Java that is used to store a collection of elements. It allows us to organize and manipulate data efficiently. In this article, we will explore the concept of lists in Java, their advantages, and how to use them effectively.

Introduction to Lists

In Java, a list is an ordered collection of elements. Unlike arrays, which have a fixed size, lists can dynamically grow or shrink as needed. This flexibility makes lists a popular choice when dealing with unknown or changing data sizes.

Lists are commonly used for various purposes such as storing user details, managing inventory items, or representing a sequence of actions.

The List Interface

In Java, the List interface provides the foundation for creating different types of lists. It defines several methods for adding, removing, accessing, and manipulating elements within the list.

The List interface extends the Collection interface and introduces additional operations specifically designed for working with indexed elements.

Creating a List

To create a list in Java, we need to choose an implementation class that implements the List interface. Some commonly used implementations include:

  • ArrayList: This implementation provides dynamic array-like behavior. It is efficient for random access but might be slower when inserting or deleting elements in the middle of large lists.
  • LinkedList: This implementation uses a doubly-linked list internally.

    It excels at insertions and deletions but may have slower random access compared to ArrayList.

  • Vector: A legacy implementation similar to ArrayList but synchronized (thread-safe). It is generally less preferred due to its performance impact.

Here’s an example of creating an ArrayList:

List<String> myList = new ArrayList<>();

Adding Elements to a List

We can add elements to a list using the add() method. This method appends the specified element at the end of the list. Here’s an example:


Accessing Elements in a List

To access elements in a list, we can use the get() method, which returns the element at the specified index. The index starts from 0 for the first element.

// Accessing elements
String firstElement = myList.get(0); // "Apple"
String secondElement = myList.get(1); // "Banana"
// ..and so on.

Removing Elements from a List

To remove elements from a list, we can use the remove() method. It takes either an index or an object as an argument and removes the corresponding element from the list.

// Removing elements
myList.remove(0); // Removes "Apple"
// .or.
myList.remove("Banana"); // Removes "Banana"

List Iteration and Manipulation Techniques

The List interface also provides several other useful methods for iterating and manipulating the elements:

  • size(): Returns the number of elements in the list.
  • contains(): Checks if a specific element is present in the list.
  • indexOf(): Returns the index of the first occurrence of a specified element.
  • subList(): Returns a portion of the list as a separate sublist.

These methods, along with others provided by the List interface, allow us to efficiently perform various operations on lists in Java.


List is an important data structure in Java that offers flexibility and efficiency when working with collections of elements. By using different implementations of the List interface, we can choose the most suitable one based on our specific requirements. Understanding how to create, add, access, and remove elements from a list using Java’s built-in methods is essential for effective programming.

To further explore lists and their advanced features, it is recommended to refer to Java’s official documentation and experiment with practical examples.

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