Java is a strongly Object Oriented Programming Language that had its biggest leap towards functional programming with the addition of lambda expression and Stream API in Java 8 onwards.

Let’s try to find out what streams are and how they can be useful in writing effective Java code. Here’s a complete Java streams tutorial.

Java Streams

Table of Contents:

  1. Streams
  2. Advantages of using streams
  3. Stream Pipeline
  4. Parallel Stream
  5. Map Filter Reduce
  6. Collectors
  7. When to Use Java Streams


Streams are included in package; stream package contains various utilities that can be used as operations to perform the bulk operation on some Collection or any data source. A stream is not to be confused with some data structure like an array or some Collection used for storing data.

It is created from sources like an array, ArrayList, List or any Collection, a file, or some I/O channel, stream pipeline. Stream elements can be used only once their life as they are fed to some operation if an attempt is made to access it later an IllegalStateException is thrown.

Sample Usage:

String[] fruits = new String[]{"apple", "oranges", "banana",”pineapple”,”oranges”,”apple”,”mango”};
Stream<String>  fruitsStream =


ArrayList<String> fruits = newArrayList<>();
Stream<String> fruitStream =;


Stream<String> fruitStream = Stream.of([]"apple", "oranges", "banana",”pineapple”,”guava”,”apple”,”mango”)

Let’s write a code to find all fruits whose name ends with character “e” using for loop:

List  newlist  = new ArrayList<String>();
for(String fruit : fruits)
If (fruit.endsWith(“e”)

Now let’s see how it can be done using streams in a single line.
List newList = x->x.endsWith("e")).collect(Collectors.toList());

In the above code, the stream is from the List object, and this stream is fed to another intermediate operation using filter(), this function iterates over each element of the input stream and filters all the elements according to lambda expression which produces a new stream of filtered elements as input to the terminal operation collect which produces a new List.

Key Features of Java Stream

A Java stream helps in processing the collections of objects. Java stream refers to an object sequence supporting pipelining methods to produce the required results. Moreover, streams are the wrappers on data sources that allow the users to work with the source by making mass processing efficient and rapid. The Java stream is not a proper data structure as it does not modify an underlying data source. Below are the main features of the Java Stream:

  • The Java stream takes input from the collections, Input/output channels, or Arrays.
  • Using the steam does not interfere with the original data structure. It uses effective pipeline methods to produce the required output.
  • Every single operation returns an output string due to lazy execution. Therefore, it allows pipelining various operations. However, the terminal operation indicates the end of an operation.

Advantages of using Streams:

  1. Efficient and shortcode.
  2. Streams provide a very easy way to do parallel computation without having to worry about multi-threading implementations.
  3. Streams provide a large set of operations that can be utilized in many scenarios.
  4. It provides a more memory-efficient way as the stream is closed, once it’s consumed and there are no extra objects and variables created which linger on, waiting to be garbage collected.
  5. With the use of lambda expressions, a wide range of functionalities can be implemented.

Stream Pipeline

A Stream pipeline consists of a stream source with zero or more intermediate operations and a terminal operation. Figure 1 shows the components of a stream pipeline.

Java Streams
Components of a stream pipeline


The stream can be created from the array, Set, List, Map, or any Collection, any generator function like a random function generator, from a file or any IO channel, or some computational pipeline.

Intermediate Operation

From a source, a stream of elements is generated on which some operations are applied to achieve the desired result. In a stream pipeline, there can be one or more intermediate operations. Intermediate operations can be of two types stateless and stateful. Each intermediate operation consumes a stream and produces another stream as per the implemented logic.

Stateless Operations

Operations which doesn’t require maintaining the state of the stream and has nothing to do with the other elements of the stream, Operations like map (), filter () mapToInt (), mapToDouble(), peek(), unsorted(), etc.

Stateful Operations

Operations in which elements can’t be processed individually and they are required to do some comparison with other elements, like distinct (), sorted (), limit (), etc.

Terminal Operations

In a stream pipeline there can be only one terminal operation that produces some desired single result or side effect, it consumes a stream but doesn’t produce a stream. Example terminal operations min() , max(), sum(), average(), collect(), for Each(), reduce() etc.

Java Stream forEach() Operation

The forEach() operation is one of the terminal operations. After the program executes the forEach() operation, it indicates that the pipeline is fully consumed and is not eligible to perform any other operation. It is one of the most common and easiest operations in a stream. This operation calls the essential function on every element by looping over the stream elements. The forEach() operation is helpful as it iterates over every stream element. Following is a simple example of using this terminal operation:


Below is an example of forEach() using an array:

List number = Arrays.asList(2,3,4,5);>x*x).forEach(y->System.out.println(y));

Parallel Stream

Traditionally when we wanted to perform any bulk operation on a collection by using for loop it’s done sequentially. Streams provide support for parallel computation to exploit multiple cores on a processing unit, it can be achieved very easily by creating a stream ().parallel () or any Collection.parallelStream().

Example: Find fruits, whose names end with “e” using a parallel stream.

List newList = x-x.endsWith("e")).collect(Collectors.toList());


Stream fruitStream = fruits.parallelStream();

Map Filter Reduce

In functional programming Map filter reduce operations are very popular and come in handy in a wide range of situations. All these operations make use of lambda expressions. :

The map is an intermediate operation that consumes a stream and produces a stream. It applies a given lambda expression or method reference to each element of the stream and converts it to a new stream.

Moreover, the map is a higher-order function that uses a specific lambda expression to convert each value in the stream and write the output in a different stream depending on the specified lambda expression.

Example: Convert each element of the list to uppercase.

List newList = x->x.toUpperCase()).collect(Collectors.toList());

OR using method reference

List newList = String::toUpperCase).collect(Collectors.toList());

Stream.filter() :

The filter is an intermediate operation that consumes a stream and produces a stream. It applies a given lambda expression to each element of the stream and filters the input stream to the new stream.

In other words, it filters out the elements of a stream that result in a particular output after applying the lambda expression.

Example: filter all elements that start with “A”.

List newList = x->x.toUpperCase()).filter(x->x.startsWith(“A”)).collect(Collectors.toList());

Stream.reduce() :

Reduce is a terminal operation that consumes a stream, applies the lambda expression to each element and produces a single result and not a stream.

Example: Concatenate all fruits that start with “A”.

List newList = x->x.toUpperCase()).filter(x->x.startsWith(“A”)).reduce(“”,(x,y)-> x+y);

Collectors is a final utility class that contains various methods which are used with terminal operation Stream.collect() . It is generally used to convert the output stream after various operations are applied to some Collection using Collectors.toList() , Collectors.toSet() etc.

Collectors also provide some very useful utility methods like Collectors.groupingBy () and Collectors. Counting ().

Example: Let’s count no fruits of each type.

Map<String, Long> map =>x.toUpperCase()).collect(Collectors.groupingBy(Function.identity(),Collectors.counting()));

This gives the output:


When to Use Java Streams

The Java streams provide various benefits to the developers due to their significant abilities. Whenever the developers have to create functions on an abstract level, they can benefit from these Java streams. This abstraction level helps build efficient procedures and write code with minimum bugs. Moreover, this approach proves helpful in building efficient functions using compact lines of code. The Java streams can convert a significant code into just a few lines of code block.

Furthermore, the Java streams provide easy parallelization to the pipeline methods to find optimal solutions for complex problems.  Another approach is that using all the lambda expressions saves a developer from working with unnecessary variables, which will work within the function’s scope.


In a nutshell, we can say java streams can be very helpful when we are dealing with any Collections data structure and need to perform various bulk operations. In day-to-day programming, we always use some Collections like ArrayList, Set, Hashmap, etc., with such a large set of utilities packaged with java streams, it makes programmers’ task easier with these readymade operations available. And with parallel streams, one can easily exploit parallel processing without having to deal with multithreading.