PriorityQueue

A PriorityQueue is an implementation of the Queue interface. It stores elements in a collection prioritized by natural ordering or by a custom Comparator. The elements are prioritized with the least value element at the head of the queue, and the Queue methods .peek() and .poll() operate on that element.

Syntax

PriorityQueue is a member of the java.util package which must be imported first.

import java.util.PriorityQueue;

PriorityQueue<DataType> q = new PriorityQueue<DataType>();
  • q is a PriorityQueue created with the new keyword.
  • DataType is the data type that will be stored in it.

CustomComparator is a custom Comparator for DataType or a parent class of DataType. The following syntax sets a CustomComparator to a PriorityQueue:

import java.util.PriorityQueue;
import java.util.Comparator;

PriorityQueue<DataType> q = new PriorityQueue<DataType>(new CustomComparator());

Adding Items

New items can be added to the PriorityQueue with the .add() method.

Syntax

priorityqueue.add(item)

Where item is the item to be added, which should match the data type of the priorityqueue.

Example

import java.util.PriorityQueue;
public class Main {
public static PriorityQueue<String> SetupPriorityQueue() {
PriorityQueue<String> result = new PriorityQueue<String>();
result.add("Cabbage");
result.add("Pizza");
result.add("Sausage");
result.add("Potatoes");
result.add("Salad");
return result;
}
public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = SetupPriorityQueue();
System.out.println(food);
}
}

This will output:

[Cabbage, Pizza, Sausage, Potatoes, Salad]

Removing Specific Items

Specific items can be removed from the PriorityQueue with the .remove() method.

Syntax

priorityqueue.remove(item)

Where item is the item to be removed from priorityqueue. If item is not part of priorityqueue the method has no effect.

Example

Changing the .main() method of the above example:

public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = SetupPriorityQueue();
food.remove("Pizza");
while (food.size() > 0) {
System.out.println(food.poll());
}
}

This will output:

Cabbage
Potatoes
Salad
Sausage

Checking For Existence of an Item

The PriorityQueue can be checked if it contains a particular item with the .contains() method.

Syntax

boolean result = priorityqueue.contains(item);

Where result will be true if priorityqueue contains item as one of its members.

Example

Changing the .main() method of the above example:

public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = SetupPriorityQueue();
if (food.contains("Nuts")) {
System.out.println("Allergen warning!");
} else {
System.out.println("Safe to eat.");
}
}

This will output:

Safe to eat.

Returning the Size of a PriorityQueue

The number of items in a PriorityQueue can be returned with the .size() method.

Syntax

int ItemCount = priorityqueue.size()

Where ItemCount is the number of items in priorityqueue.

Example

Changing the .main() method of the above example:

public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = SetupPriorityQueue();
while (food.size() > 0) {
System.out.println(food.poll());
System.out.println(food.size());
}
}

This will output:

Cabbage
4
Pizza
3
Potatoes
2
Salad
1
Sausage
0

Traversing a PriorityQueue

A PriorityQueue can be traversed with a for-each loop. Note that when doing so, the items will be returned in the order they were added to the queue, not in priority order.

Example

Changing the .main() method of the above example:

public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = SetupPriorityQueue();
for (String i : food) {
System.out.println(i);
}
}

This will output:

Cabbage
Pizza
Sausage
Potatoes
Salad

.peek() and .poll() Methods

The Queue methods .peek() and .poll() operate on the item at the head of the PriorityQueue. .peek() will return the item at the head of the queue without removing it, while .poll() will return the head of the queue and remove it.

Syntax

Datatype i = priorityqueue.peek();
Datatype j = priorityqueue.poll();

Where DataType is the data type that priorityqueue was defined with. Both return a null value when operating on an empty PriorityQueue.

Example

Changing the .main() method of the above example:

public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = SetupPriorityQueue();
System.out.println(food.peek());
while (food.size() > 0) {
System.out.println(food.poll());
}
System.out.println(food.peek());
}

This will output:

Cabbage
Cabbage
Pizza
Potatoes
Salad
Sausage
null

Using a Custom Comparator

To prioritize items by some other scheme than the natural sort order, a custom Comparator must be used. A Comparator is a special class that is used by the PriorityQueue to determine when one item of a given data type should come before another item of the same data type. The function should implement the Comparator<DataType> interface, where DataType is the data type being compared, and override the compare method, which takes two arguments of DataType and returns a positive value if the first argument comes before the second, and a negative value if the first argument comes after the second.

Syntax

import java.util.PriorityQueue;
import java.util.Comparator;
static class CustomComparator implements Comparator<DataType> {
@Override
public int compare(DataType item1, DataType item2)
{
// return positive if item1 < item2, and negative if item1 > item2
}
PriorityQueue<DataType> q = new PriorityQueue<DataType>(new CustomComparator());

Example

The following example reverses the priorities of the String values in the PriorityQueue:

import java.util.PriorityQueue;
import java.util.Comparator;
public class Main {
static class CustomComparator implements Comparator<String> {
@Override
public int compare(String item1, String item2)
{
return item1.compareTo(item2) < 0 ? 1 : -1;
}
}
public static void main(String[] args) {
PriorityQueue<String> food = new PriorityQueue<String>(new CustomComparator());
food.add("Cabbage");
food.add("Pizza");
food.add("Sausage");
food.add("Potatoes");
food.add("Salad");
while (food.size() > 0) {
System.out.println(food.poll());
}
}
}

This will output:

Sausage
Salad
Potatoes
Pizza
Cabbage

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