Java Language Sorting arrays


Example

Sorting arrays can be easily done with the Arrays api.

import java.util.Arrays;

// creating an array with integers
int[] array = {7, 4, 2, 1, 19};
// this is the sorting part just one function ready to be used
Arrays.sort(array);
// prints [1, 2, 4, 7, 19]
System.out.println(Arrays.toString(array));

Sorting String arrays:

String is not a numeric data, it defines it's own order which is called lexicographic order, also known as alphabetic order. When you sort an array of String using sort() method, it sorts array into natural order defined by Comparable interface, as shown below :

Increasing Order

String[] names = {"John", "Steve", "Shane", "Adam", "Ben"};
System.out.println("String array before sorting : " + Arrays.toString(names));
Arrays.sort(names); 
System.out.println("String array after sorting in ascending order : " + Arrays.toString(names));

Output:

String array before sorting : [John, Steve, Shane, Adam, Ben]    
String array after sorting in ascending order : [Adam, Ben, John, Shane, Steve]

Decreasing Order

Arrays.sort(names, 0, names.length, Collections.reverseOrder());
System.out.println("String array after sorting in descending order : " + Arrays.toString(names));

Output:

String array after sorting in descending order : [Steve, Shane, John, Ben, Adam]

Sorting an Object array

In order to sort an object array, all elements must implement either Comparable or Comparator interface to define the order of the sorting.

We can use either sort(Object[]) method to sort an object array on its natural order, but you must ensure that all elements in the array must implement Comparable.

Furthermore, they must be mutually comparable as well, for example e1.compareTo(e2) must not throw a ClassCastException for any elements e1 and e2 in the array. Alternatively you can sort an Object array on custom order using sort(T[], Comparator) method as shown in following example.

// How to Sort Object Array in Java using Comparator and Comparable
Course[] courses = new Course[4];
courses[0] = new Course(101, "Java", 200);
courses[1] = new Course(201, "Ruby", 300);
courses[2] = new Course(301, "Python", 400);
courses[3] = new Course(401, "Scala", 500);
       
System.out.println("Object array before sorting : " + Arrays.toString(courses));
       
Arrays.sort(courses);
System.out.println("Object array after sorting in natural order : " + Arrays.toString(courses));
       
Arrays.sort(courses, new Course.PriceComparator());
System.out.println("Object array after sorting by price : " + Arrays.toString(courses));
       
Arrays.sort(courses, new Course.NameComparator());
System.out.println("Object array after sorting by name : " + Arrays.toString(courses));

Output:

Object array before sorting : [#101 Java@200 , #201 Ruby@300 , #301 Python@400 , #401 Scala@500 ]    
Object array after sorting in natural order : [#101 Java@200 , #201 Ruby@300 , #301 Python@400 , #401 Scala@500 ]    
Object array after sorting by price : [#101 Java@200 , #201 Ruby@300 , #301 Python@400 , #401 Scala@500 ]    
Object array after sorting by name : [#101 Java@200 , #301 Python@400 , #201 Ruby@300 , #401 Scala@500 ]