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Flattening Nested Collections in Java

  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 27 Oct, 2021

A stream is a sequence of objects that supports various methods which can be pipelined to produce the desired result. Stream is used to computing elements as per the pipelined methods without altering the original value of the object. And, flattening means merging two or more collections into one. Consider the below illustration where we have an array including 3 arrays but after the flattening effect, we will have one result array with all the elements in three arrays.

Illustration:

Input      : arr1[]  = {{1,2,3,4},{5,6,7},{8,9}}; 
Processing : Flattening
Output     : arr1[]  = {1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9};

Stream flatMap() method is used to flatten a Stream of collections to a stream of objects. The objects are combined from all the collections in the original stream. The flatMap() method is a one-to-many transformation to the elements of the stream and then flattening the resulting elements into a new stream. Basically Stream.flatMap() method helps to convert Stream<Collection<T>> to the Stream<T>.

Example 1: Flatten a stream of two arrays of the same type using the flatMap() method 

Java




// Java Program to Flatten a map containing a list of items
// as values using flatMap() method
 
// Importing input output classes
import java.io.*;
// Importing desired classes from java.util package
import java.util.*;
import java.util.stream.Collectors;
import java.util.stream.Stream;
 
// Main class
public class GFG {
 
    // Method 1
    // To flatten a map containing a list of items as values
    public static <T> Stream<T>
    flatten(Collection<List<T> > values)
    {
 
        // Stream.flatMap() method converts
        // Stream<Collection<T>> to the  Stream<T>
        Stream<T> stream
            = values.stream().flatMap(x -> x.stream());
 
        // Return the desired stream
        return stream;
    }
 
    // Method 2
    // Main driver method
    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
 
        // Creating an object of Map class
        // Declaring object of integer and string type
        Map<Integer, List<String> > map = new HashMap<>();
 
        // Adding elements to the above Map object
        // Custom input entries
        map.put(1, Arrays.asList("1", "2", "3"));
        map.put(2, Arrays.asList("4", "5", "6"));
 
        // Creating a List class object holding all elements
        // after flattening
        List<String> s = flatten(map.values())
                             .collect(Collectors.toList());
 
        // Print and display the above List object
        System.out.println(s);
    }
}
Output
[A, B, C, i, J, K]

Example 2: Flatten a stream of two lists of the same type

Java




// Java Program to flatten a stream of same type two arrays
// using flatMap() method
 
// Importing input output classes
import java.io.*;
// Importing Arrays and Stream classes
// from java.util package
import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.stream.Stream;
 
// Main class
class GFG {
   
    // Method 1
    //  To flatten a stream of two arrays of the same type
    public static <T> Stream<T> flatten(T[] a, T[] b)
    {
        // Stream.flatMap() method converts
        // Stream<Collection<T>> to the  Stream<T>
        Stream<T> stream
            = Stream.of(a, b).flatMap(Arrays::stream);
 
        // Returns the desired stream
        return stream;
    }
 
    // Method 2
    // Main driver method
    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
        // Input array of strings
 
        // Array 1 has uppercase characters
        String[] a = { "A", "B", "C" };
 
        // Array 2 has lowercase characters
        String[] b = { "i", "J", "K" };
          
        // Calling the above method in the main() method
        String[] s = flatten(a, b).toArray(String[] ::new);
 
        // Return string representation of contents
        // of integer array
        System.out.println(Arrays.toString(s));
    }
}
Output
[Ma, Rs, Xy, Jw, Pi, Br]

Example 3: Flatten a map containing a list of items as values using flatMap() method

Java




// Java Program to Flatten a map containing a list of items
// as values using flatMap() method
 
// Importing input output classes
import java.io.*;
// Importing desired classes from java.util package
import java.util.*;
import java.util.stream.Collectors;
import java.util.stream.Stream;
 
// Main class
public class GFG {
 
    // Method 1
    // To flatten a map containing a list of items as values
    public static <T> Stream<T>
    flatten(Collection<List<T> > values)
    {
 
        // Stream.flatMap() method converts
        // Stream<Collection<T>> to the  Stream<T>
        Stream<T> stream
            = values.stream().flatMap(x -> x.stream());
 
        // Return the desired stream
        return stream;
    }
 
    // Method 2
    // Main driver method
    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
 
        // Creating an object of Map class
        // Declaring object of integer and string type
        Map<Integer, List<String> > map = new HashMap<>();
 
        // Adding elements to the above Map object
        // Custom input entries
        map.put(1, Arrays.asList("1", "2", "3"));
        map.put(2, Arrays.asList("4", "5", "6"));
 
        // Creating a List class object holding all elements
        // after flattening
        List<String> s = flatten(map.values())
                             .collect(Collectors.toList());
 
        // Print and display the above List object
        System.out.println(s);
    }
}
Output
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]


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