PROPOSAL: Enhanced for each loop iteration control

Reinier Zwitserloot reinier at
Tue Mar 31 06:29:55 PDT 2009

I very much like the enhanced for each loop iteration control. The  
advantages are numerous, in my opinion:

1. intent - if you're looping across an essentially pre-defined set of  
items (which iterators generally give you), the associated keyword is  
'for' and not 'while'.

2. Fixes some serious annoyances in java such as a lack of a join  
operator, by giving utility methods that you currently don't even get  
on iterators (first() and index() and company).

and a non-issue, again, IMO:

3. Speed isn't inherent in the foreach construct in the first place.  
That seems to make 'Slow because it requires creating a bunch of  
objects' a very strange argument. The for-each construct is already  
slow in the following myriad, high-impact ways:

  3a: Index looping is just an array lookup, but especially for  
Collections, every interaction with your iterator causes a check for  
throwing ConcurrentModificationException. Slow.

  3b: You cannot for-each over an iterator, you must have an iterable.  
The iterable has to create an object to fulfill its contract, so we're  
already creating objects here. Another one in the mix really doesn't  
make a difference then.

In practice, hotspot makes most of these points moot anyway. In my  
experience, the JVM can optimize many things that seem slow, but  
sometimes cannot optimize a trivial thing that you'd think wouldn't be  
a problem. Without a few PhD degrees in hotspot's internals, profiling  
is always a good idea. Is there a profile that shows the JVM would  
have serious issues with creating a wrapper object? If not, I think it  
would be a bad idea to continue this conversation on the presumption  
that extended foreach would somehow be much slower than plain foreach.  
I doubt that is true.

NB: Yes, labels are an entirely separate namespace.

  --Reinier Zwitserloot

On Mar 31, 2009, at 01:46, Stephen Colebourne wrote:

> Stefan Schulz wrote:
>> Frankly, I cannot see a great advantage of:
>>   for (Foo foo : fooList : it) {
>>     ...
>>   }
>> saving two lines of code over:
>>   Iterator<Foo> it = fooList.iterator();
>>   while (it.hasNext()) {
>>     Foo foo =;
>>     ...
>>   }
> The former captures the *intent* of the loop. The latter is all about
> plumbing.
>> by adding two wrappers and stuff to the code in the background.
> The proposal discusses possible optimisations, however I suspect that
> hohtspot can probably cope with two additional objects being created.
> Remember, the extra overhead only happens if you add the optional
> iterator reference.
> Stephen

More information about the coin-dev mailing list