IteratorsBuffered iteratorsContents

Buffered iterators

Sometimes you want an iterator that can "look ahead", so that you can inspect the next element to be returned without advancing past that element. Consider for instance, the task to skip leading empty strings from an iterator that returns a sequence of strings. You might be tempted to write the following

def skipEmptyWordsNOT(it: Iterator[String]) =
  while ( {}

But looking at this code more closely, it's clear that this is wrong: The code will indeed skip leading empty strings, but it will also advance it past the first non-empty string!

The solution to this problem is to use a buffered iterator. Class BufferedIterator is a subclass of Iterator, which provides one extra method, head. Calling head on a buffered iterator will return its first element but will not advance the iterator. Using a buffered iterator, skipping empty words can be written as follows.

def skipEmptyWords(it: BufferedIterator[String]) =
  while (it.head.isEmpty) { }

Every iterator can be converted to a buffered iterator by calling its buffered method. Here's an example:

scala> val it = Iterator(1234)
it: Iterator[Int] = non-empty iterator
scala> val bit = it.buffered
bit: java.lang.Object with scala.collection.
   BufferedIterator[Int] = non-empty iterator
scala> bit.head
res10: Int = 1
res11: Int = 1
res11: Int = 2

Note that calling head on the buffered iterator bit does not advance it. Therefore, the subsequent call returns the same value as bit.head.

Next: Creating collections from scratch

IteratorsBuffered iteratorsContents