Using Method References in Java

By Barry A. Burd

You can use method references in Java. Here’s an example. Taken as a whole, the entire assembly line adds up the prices of DVDs sold. The code below illustrates a complete program using streams and lambda expressions.

import java.text.NumberFormat;

import java.util.ArrayList;


public class TallySales {


public static void main(String[] args) {

ArrayList<Sale> sales = new ArrayList<>();

NumberFormat currency = NumberFormat.getCurrencyInstance();



double total =

.filter((sale) -> sale.getItem().equals("DVD"))

.map((sale) -> sale.getPrice())

.reduce(0.0, (price1, price2) -> price1 + price2);





static void fillTheList(ArrayList<Sale> sales) {

sales.add(new Sale("DVD", 15.00));

sales.add(new Sale("Book", 12.00));

sales.add(new Sale("DVD", 21.00));

sales.add(new Sale("CD", 5.25));



Take a critical look at the last lambda expression:

(price1, price2) -> price1 + price2)

This expression does roughly the same work as a sum method. If your choice is between typing a 3-line sum method and typing a 1-line lambda expression, you’ll probably choose the lambda expression. But what if you have a third alternative? Rather than type your own sum method, you can refer to an existing sum method. Using an existing method is the quickest and safest thing to do.

As luck would have it, Java’s Double class contains a static sum method. You don’t have to create your own sum method. If you run the following code:

double i = 5.0, j = 7.0;

System.out.println(Double.sum(i, j));

the computer displays 12.0. So, rather than type the price1 + price2 lambda expression, you can create a method reference — an expression that refers to an existing method.

.filter((sale) -> sale.getItem().equals("DVD"))

.map((sale) -> sale.getPrice())

.reduce(0.0, Double :: sum);

The expression Double::sum refers to the sum method belonging to Java’s Double class. When you use this Double::sum method reference, you do the same thing that the last lambda expression does. Everybody is happy.