Some years back when I was learning Java, I got to know that Java follows Object Oriented Programming paradigm and everything in Java is an object either it is a String (which was a char array in C) or an array itself.

But later on I found on the internet, people are saying that Java is actually not a purely object-oriented because everything in Java is not an object, for example:
  1. All primitive types (char, boolean, byte, short, int, long, float, double) are not objects because we can not perform any object related operation (using . and calling methods) on them.
  2. I have seen some people some saying that all the static content (variables and methods) does not belong to any object so they are non-object things.
I easily accepted these reasons and started to believe that Java is not a pure object-oriented programming language.

But later on, I found that for every object JVM creates two objects
  1. The object itself.
  2. And one Class level object which gets created only once when classloader loads the class into memory. And all static content of that class belongs to this Class object and all other objects of that class refer to this class level object for all static content.
For Example for below statement, there will be two objects

Employee emp = new Employee();

One is emp itself and another one is the class level object of employee class. If we are accessing any static content through the emp object it points to the class level object to access that.

That's the reason why static variables get changed for every object even if we change it for a single emp object because all objects are pointing to the same copy of that variable from class level object.

Now 2nd point got canceled because the static content does belong to an object. But the 1st point is still there and we still have primitive data types which are not objects in Java. However wrapper classes are there and due to autoboxing (automatic unboxing-boxing, boxing-unboxing), we can directly assign a primitive literal to its Wrapper class reference.

But still, we can’t perform object related operations on primitives variables we always need to create objects of the respective wrapper class, for example

Integer obj = new Integer(5); // here we can do obj.toString()
int i = 5; // but we can't do i.toString() here

And due to these reasons, we say primitive types are not objects but what if that’s actually an elusion and it is end-user perspective (Java developers are end user to Java because we are using it not creating it).

If we dig down deep into the Java source codes we can find that JVM internally treats all primitive types as objects and proof of this can be found in source code or Javadoc of class Class, according to source code class Class

Instances of the class Class represent classes and interfaces in a running Java application. An enum is a kind of class and an annotation is a kind of interface. Every array also belongs to a class that is reflected as a Class object that is shared by all arrays with the same element type and number of dimensions. The primitive Java types (boolean, byte, char, short, int, long, float, and double), and the keyword void are also represented as Class objects

And Javadoc code of Class.isPrimitive() method says

public boolean isPrimitive()
Determines if the specified Class object represents a primitive type.
There are nine predefined Class objects to represent the eight primitive types and void. These are created by the Java Virtual Machine, and have the same names as the primitive types that they represent, namely boolean,byte, char, short, int, long, float, and double.
These objects may only be accessed via the following public static final variables, and are the only Class objects for which this method returns true.
true if and only if this class represents a primitive type
See Also:
Boolean.TYPE, Character.TYPE, Byte.TYPE, Short.TYPE, Integer.TYPE, Long.TYPE, Float.TYPE, Double.TYPE, Void.TYPE

If we open source code of class Class and do a CTRL + F for "primitive” word we will find lots of reason to believe that JVM treats all primitive types as objects internally.

Also if we open source of the Integer class search for Integer.TYPE entry, we will find

public static final Class[Integer]( TYPE
The Class instance representing the primitive type int.

And if we write below the line in your program in eclipse

Integer.TYPE i = 5;

We get a compilation error saying Integer.TYPE cannot be resolved to a type with a hint from eclipse to change it to int.

So if all primitive types are objects for JVM then why should we use primitive types


If JVM creates objects for all primitive types then why do we need to use primitive types instead of creating an object of its respective wrapper classes. That’s because JVM creates these native objects for primitive types internally and those objects are very lightweight and optimized than their respective wrapper class objects and due to this, they have less functionality e.g. we can’t call methods on them because they don’t have any.

We should use primitive types because:
  1. They are fast e.g. below program takes 9 seconds to run on my machine while it takes 0 seconds if I convert Long sum to long sum.
     public static void main(String[] args) {
 long millis = System.currentTimeMillis();
 Long sum = 0L; // uses Long, not long
 for (long i = 0; i <= Integer.MAX_VALUE; i++) {
  sum += i;


 System.out.println((System.currentTimeMillis() - millis) / 1000);
  1. They allow us to use native equality operator ==
     new Integer(3) == new Integer(3); // false
     new Integer(100) == new Integer(100); // false
     Integer.valueOf(5) == Integer.valueOf(5); //true
     Integer.valueOf(100) == Integer.valueOf(100); //false

4th statement gives false because the 256 integers closest to zero [-128; 127] are cached by the JVM, so they return the same object for those. Beyond that range, they aren't cached, so a new object is created.

So there are enough reasons to say JVM treats all primitive types as objects internally, however, we can’t use them in that way and we have got Wrapper classes for that.

This is why Java is purely Object Oriented Language, Please mention in comments what do you think Java is a purely Object Oriented Language or not.
Java 8 is one of most popular release in the history of Java and have introduced lots of major features like Lambda Expression, Method Reference, Stream API, new DateTime API, Default and static interface methods etc.. For complete list of new Java 8 feature read What’s New in JDK 8 article by oracle itself.

In this article, we are going to study Java Lambda Expression in details e.g. what is the lambda expression, why it so popular, what are the advantages of the lambda expression, what purpose is solved, how it differs from anonymous classes and why/how should we use it.
lambda expression logo

Why Java needs Lambda Expression

Java is a multiparadigm programming language (Supports Object Oriented, Imperative, Structured, Declarative style of programming). However, most of its design architecture is influenced by Object Oriented programming style.

And there are two variations of object-oriented programming (OOP) style
  • Class-based OOP style
  • Prototype-based OOP style → doesn’t support inheritance
Java supports class-based OOP style that’s why there should be a class for every object while JavaScript follows Prototype-based OOP style that’s why we don’t have the concept of class and inheritance in JavaScript. Everything in JavaScript is an object either it is a variable or a function while in Java a function (method) is state of the object.

Apart from this JavaScript also follows the Functional style of programming so we can assign functions to variables, pass functions as argument or return a function from other function etc..

Due to class-based nature of Java programming, it is hard to maintain functions as first class citizen similar as objects. That’s why Java does not support functional style of programming (before Java 8) and we can’t assign functions to variables or pass functions as argument or return them.

Lambda Expression is a way to introduce functional programming to Java. So by using lambda expression we can simply define and use functions wherever we need them (e.g. inside a method) without even creating objects. Due to lambda expression now functions have also become first class citizens in Java language.

What is Lambda Expression

By definition

A Lambda Expression is an anonymous function (a function defined, and possibly called, without being bound to an identifier and a name.

The concept is similar to anonymous classes or anonymous objects, Now we can declare methods wherever we want them without any name. The sole purpose of writing an anonymous class object is to override its method and provide our own functionality but for that single method, we always need to declare the class. With lambda expression, we can eliminate the declaration of the anonymous class and we can simply write the methods.

Since the old days of Swing, we always had written anonymous classes if we wanted to pass some functionality to any method. For example old event listener code and thread creation code look like

Runnable runnable = new Runnable() {
  public void run() {
  System.out.println("Running thread using anonymous class");
Thread thread = new Thread(runnable);

If you look at above code the actual functionality of the thread is written in the run() method. And we are creating an anonymous class object just to define a single method which is really unnecessary if we can do functional programming (just create the function where it needs). So here the creation of anonymous class Can be replaced by lambda as below which is just a single line of code:

Runnable runnable = () -> System.out.println("Running thread using lambda expression");
Thread thread = new Thread(runnable);

Above we have assigned a lambda to the reference variable but more precisely we create a thread as below if r is not reusable.

Thread t = new Thread(() -> System.out.println("Running thread using lambda expression"));

How to write Lambda Expression

Through lambda expression, we can write functional code but this is still not similar to other functional programming languages like C, C++, JavaScript.

Java is still a class based object oriented language and methods always belong to some class, abstract class or interface. So methods implemented using lambda expression must have to define somewhere. So along with Lambda Expression Oracle engineers have applied some tweaks and introduced the concept of Functional Interfaces.

Functional Interface → An interface with only one abstract method and optionally annotated with @FunctionalInterface annotation.

We can use lambda expressions only with Functional interfaces, in above example the Runnable interface is a functional interface.
Lambda expressions in Java is usual written using syntax (argument) -> (body)

lambda expression syntax

Converting anonymous classes to Lambda Expression

After little bit practice, you will not feel any need for conversion, you will start writing lambdas without any confusion. But whenever you got confused conversion approach is the best way to create lambdas.

We can convert the old anonymous class code to lambda expression as below, suppose we want to create lambda expression for thread generation process:

Runnable runnable = new Runnable() {
  public void run() {
  System.out.println("In thread");
  System.out.println("doing something");

Remove below things in order
→ new keyword new,
→ class name and it’s parentheses Runnable(),
→ class opening and closing braces { };,
@Override annotation (if have any),
→ remove method declaration (leave argument parentheses ()) public void run
→ removing method opening { and closing braces } is not necessary, however, if you have single line of code in it then you can remove them
→ add -> between parentheses () and execution code inside { }

Runnable runnable = new Runnable() {
  public void run() -> {
  System.out.println("In thread");
  System.out.println("doing something");

So now our lambda expression will become

Runnable runnable = () -> {
  System.out.println("In thread");
  System.out.println("doing something");

Single line Zero Argument method: If we have a single line of code inside execution block {} then we can remove them.

Runnable r = () -> System.out.println("In thread");

Multiple Argument Methods: If functional interface’s method definition have arguments then we can write them inside ()

Comparator<Integer> comparator = (Integer i, Integer j) -> i.compareTo(j);

Single Argument Methods: And if there is only one argument then we can eliminate () braces
Consumer<String> consumer = obj -> System.out.println(obj);

Difference between Lambda Expression and Anonymous class

  • An anonymous class object creates a separate class file after compilation which increases the size jar while after compilation Lambda expression becomes invokedynamic which dynamic language implementation.
  • We can use this keyword to represent the current class in lambda expression while in the case of anonymous class this keyword represents that particular anonymous class.
  • In the case of Lambda expression, we need to provide the function body only while in the case of anonymous class we need to write the redundant class definition.

Advantages of Lambda Expression

Lambda Expressions allows us to code in functional style so it provides all benefits of functional style as well as above we can see Lambda Expressions lets developers
  • Simply understand the code.
  • Simplify and shorten their code.
  • Making it more readable and maintainable.
  • Remove more verbose class declarations.

Examples of Lambda Expressions

In below program, I have demonstrated different examples you can also found the source code on Github.

package org.programming.mitra.exercises;

import java.awt.Button;
import java.awt.event.ActionEvent;
import java.awt.event.ActionListener;
import java.util.Comparator;
import java.util.function.Consumer;

public class LambdaExpression {

  public static void main(String[] args) {

  // Example : Thread Creation
  // Old Way
  Runnable runnable = new Runnable() {
  public void run() {
  System.out.println("Running thread using anonymous class");
  Thread thread = new Thread(runnable);

  // New Way
  runnable = () -> System.out.println("Running thread using lambda expression");
  thread = new Thread(runnable);

  // Example : Comparator Creation
  Comparator<Integer> comparator = (Integer i, Integer j) -> i.compareTo(j);

  // Example : Consumer Creation
  Consumer<String> consumer = obj -> System.out.println(obj);

  // Example : Consumer Creation
  Button button = new Button();

  // Old way:
  button.addActionListener(new ActionListener() {
  public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
  System.out.println("button clicked");

  // New way:
  button.addActionListener((e) -> {
  System.out.println("button clicked");

  // Example : Iteration
  System.out.println("####### Old way #######");
  for (int i = 1; i < 10; i++) {
  int j = i * i;

  System.out.println("####### Lambda (Stream) way #######");
  IntStream.range(1, 10)
  .map(num -> num * num)
  .forEach(i -> System.out.println(i));


Lambda expressions are heavily used in Java Stream API, which I am going to cover in later articles.
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