Method references Comparison with lambda expressions

Category : Java | Sub Category : Java8 Features | By Prasad Bonam Last updated: 2023-11-13 05:28:23 Viewed : 384

Method references and lambda expressions in Java both serve the purpose of providing concise syntax for functional programming constructs. While they are related concepts, there are differences between the two. Her is a comparison between method references and lambda expressions:


  1. Functional Interfaces:

    • Both method references and lambda expressions are closely associated with functional interfaces, which are interfaces with a single abstract method.
  2. Use in Functional Programming:

    • Both constructs are used to write code in a functional programming style, allowing the representation of behavior as first-class citizens.


  1. Syntax:

    • Lambda Expressions:

      • Syntax: (parameters) -> expression
    • Method References:

      • Syntax depends on the type of method reference:
        • Static Method: ClassName::staticMethodName
        • Instance Method on Particular Instance: instance::instanceMethodName
        • Instance Method on Arbitrary Instance: ClassName::instanceMethodName
        • Constructor: ClassName::new
  2. Usage:

    • Lambda Expressions:

      • Used when you need to create a new implementation of a functional interface, often for short-lived and anonymous operations.
      Function<Integer, String> toStringLambda = (num) -> String.valueOf(num);
    • Method References:

      • Used when the lambda expression is essentially a call to an existing method or constructor, providing a more concise and readable form.
      Function<Integer, String> toStringReference = String::valueOf;
  3. Readability:

    • Lambda Expressions:

      • Lambda expressions are useful for more complex operations where the logic needs to be explicitly defined within the expression.
    • Method References:

      • Method references can enhance readability when the lambda expression is a simple call to an existing method, making the code more concise.
  4. Use Cases:

    • Lambda Expressions:

      • Suitable for situations where you need to define behavior inline, especially for complex or custom logic.
    • Method References:

      • Suitable when the lambda expression directly corresponds to an existing method or constructor, improving code clarity.


Lambda Expression:

List<String> names = Arrays.asList("Alice", "Bob", "Charlie"); // Lambda expression names.forEach(name -> System.out.println(name));

Method Reference:

List<String> names = Arrays.asList("Alice", "Bob", "Charlie"); // Method reference names.forEach(System.out::println);

In this example, both the lambda expression and the method reference achieve the same result—printing each element of the list. The method reference version, System.out::println, is more concise and often considered more readable for this specific case.


  • Use Lambda Expressions When:

    • You need to define custom behavior.
    • The logic inside the lambda expression is more complex.
    • You want to create short-lived and anonymous functions.
  • Use Method References When:

    • The lambda expression is essentially a call to an existing method or constructor.
    • The method reference improves code readability.
    • The logic is straightforward and corresponds to an existing method.

Both lambda expressions and method references are powerful features introduced in Java 8 to support functional programming. The choice between them depends on the context and the desired level of readability and conciseness in your code.

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