Home » Java » Enterprise Java » Google Guava BiMaps

About Tom Jefferys

Google Guava BiMaps

Next up on my tour of Guava, is the BiMap, another useful collection type. It’s pretty simple really, a BiMap is simply a two way map.

Inverting a Map

A normal java map is a set of keys and values, and you can look up values by key, very useful, eg lets say I wanted to create a (very rudimentary) British English to American English dictionary:
 
 
 

Map<String,String> britishToAmerican = Maps.newHashMap();
britishToAmerican.put('aubergine','egglant');
britishToAmerican.put('courgette','zucchini');
britishToAmerican.put('jam','jelly');

But what if you want an American to British dictionary? Well you could write some code to invert the map:

    // Generic method to reverse map.
    public %lt;S,T> Map<T,S> getInverseMap(Map<S,T> map) {
  Map<T,S> inverseMap = new HashMap<T,S>();
  for(Entry<S,T> entry: map.entrySet()) {
   inverseMap.put(entry.getValue(), entry.getKey());
  }
  return inverseMap;
 }

It’ll do the job, but there’s several complications you might need to think about.

  • How do we handle duplicate values in the original map? At the moment they’ll be silently overwritten in the reverse map.
  • What if we want to put a new entry in the reversed map? We’d also have to update the original map! This could get annoying.

BiMaps

Well, guess what? This is the sort of situation a BiMap is designed for! And here’s how you might use it.

BiMap<String,String> britishToAmerican = HashBiMap.create();

// Initialise and use just like a normal map
britishToAmerican.put('aubergine','egglant');
britishToAmerican.put('courgette','zucchini');
britishToAmerican.put('jam','jelly');

System.out.println(britishToAmerican.get('aubergine')); // eggplant

BiMap<String,String> americanToBritish = britishToAmerican.inverse();

System.out.println(americanToBritish.get('eggplant')); // aubergine
System.out.println(americanToBritish.get('zucchini')); // courgette

Pretty simple really, but there’s a few things to notice.

Enforcing uniqueness

Firstly the BiMap enforces uniqueness of it’s values, and will give you an illegal argument exception if you try to insert a duplicate value, ie

britishToAmerican.put('pudding','dessert');
britishToAmerican.put('sweet','dessert'); // IllegalArgumentException.

If you need to add a values that has already been added there’s a forcePut method that will overwrite the entry with the duplicate value.

britishToAmerican.put('pudding','dessert');
britishToAmerican.forcePut('sweet','dessert');  // Overwrites the previous entry
System.out.println(britishToAmerican.get('sweet')); // dessert
System.out.println(britishToAmerican.get('pudding')); // null

The inverse method

The other crucial thing to understand is the inverse method, this returns the inverse BiMap, ie the a map with the keys and values switched round.
Now this inverse map, isn’t just a new map, such as my earlier reverseMap method might have created. It’s actually a view of the of the original map. This means that any subsequent changes to the inverse method will affect the original map!

americanToBritish.put('potato chips','crisps');
System.out.println(britishToAmerican.containsKey('crisps')); // true
System.out.println(britishToAmerican.get('crisps')); // potato chips

So that’s the BiMap, like I said pretty simple. As usual there are several implementations available, and as ever I recommend taking a look at the full API documentation:
http://guava-libraries.googlecode.com/svn/tags/release09/javadoc/com/google/common/collect/BiMap.html
 

Reference: Google Guava BiMaps from our JCG partner Tom Jefferys at the Tom’s Programming Blog blog.

Do you want to know how to develop your skillset to become a Java Rockstar?

Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!

To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!

1. JPA Mini Book

2. JVM Troubleshooting Guide

3. JUnit Tutorial for Unit Testing

4. Java Annotations Tutorial

5. Java Interview Questions

6. Spring Interview Questions

7. Android UI Design

and many more ....

 

2 comments

  1. what would be the inverse when duplicate values are enforced?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*


eight − 4 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Do you want to know how to develop your skillset and become a ...

Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!

To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!
Get ready to Rock!
To download the books, please verify your email address by following the instructions found on the email we just sent you.

THANK YOU!

Close