count() vs length() in Java Stream API

1. Introduction

In Java's Stream API, count() is a terminal operation that returns the number of elements in the stream. There is no length() method in the Stream API. However, in the context of arrays and strings, the length field and length() method are used to determine the number of elements or the number of characters, respectively.

2. Key Points

1. count() is a method used with streams to count the number of elements after any intermediate operations have been applied.

2. length is a field that gives the size of an array, while length() is a method that gives the length of a string.

3. count() is used when working with streams and not with arrays or strings directly.

4. Arrays have the length field, and Strings have the length() method.

3. Differences

Stream count() Array length / String length()
A terminal operation that returns the count of elements in the stream. A property (not a method) of arrays and a method on strings that returns their size or length.
It can only be called on a stream instance, e.g., stream.count(). Called on arrays or strings, e.g., array.length or string.length().
Since it's a terminal operation, it triggers the processing of the stream, and after its execution, the stream cannot be reused. It can be accessed at any time to get the size of an array or the length of a string without affecting the array or string itself.
Used to determine the number of elements processed by the stream. Used to determine the length of an array or the number of characters in a string.
Does not apply to arrays or strings directly without converting them into a stream first (e.g., Directly applicable to arrays and strings without the need for conversion.

4. Example


public class CountVsLength {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Using count() with a Stream
        Stream<String> stream = Stream.of("Java", "Python", "C++");
        long count = stream.count(); // Count the elements in the stream
        System.out.println("Stream count: " + count);

        // Using length for an array
        int[] numbers = {1, 2, 3};
        int arrayLength = numbers.length; // Get the length of the array
        System.out.println("Array length: " + arrayLength);

        // Using length() for a String
        String text = "Hello";
        int textLength = text.length(); // Get the length of the string
        System.out.println("String length: " + textLength);


Stream count: 3
Array length: 3
String length: 5


1. stream.count() counts the number of elements in the stream, which are "Java", "Python", and "C++", resulting in 3.

2. numbers.length gives the array length [1, 2, 3], which is 3.

3. text.length() gives the number of characters in the string "Hello", which is 5.

5. When to use?

- Use count() when determining the number of elements in a stream, especially after filter or map operations.

- Use length or length() when you need to know an array's size or a string's length, respectively.