The order of elements is an important aspect of certain collection types. For example, two lists of the same elements are not equal if their elements are ordered differently.
In Kotlin, the orders of objects can be defined in several ways.
First, there is natural order. It is defined for implementations of the
Comparable interface. Natural order is used for sorting them when no other order is specified.
Most built-in types are comparable:
Numeric types use the traditional numerical order:
1is greater than
-3.4fis greater than
-5f, and so on.
Stringuse the lexicographical order:
bis greater than
worldis greater than
To define a natural order for a user-defined type, make the type an implementer of
Comparable. This requires implementing the
compareTo() must take another object of the same type as an argument and return an integer value showing which object is greater:
Positive values show that the receiver object is greater.
Negative values show that it's less than the argument.
Zero shows that the objects are equal.
Below is a class for ordering versions that consist of the major and the minor part.
Custom orders let you sort instances of any type in a way you like. Particularly, you can define an order for non-comparable objects or define an order other than natural for a comparable type. To define a custom order for a type, create a
Comparator for it.
Comparator contains the
compare() function: it takes two instances of a class and returns the integer result of the comparison between them. The result is interpreted in the same way as the result of a
compareTo() as is described above.
lengthComparator, you are able to arrange strings by their length instead of the default lexicographical order.
A shorter way to define a
Comparator is the
compareBy() function from the standard library.
compareBy() takes a lambda function that produces a
Comparable value from an instance and defines the custom order as the natural order of the produced values.
compareBy(), the length comparator from the example above looks like this:
The Kotlin collections package provides functions for sorting collections in natural, custom, and even random orders. On this page, we'll describe sorting functions that apply to read-only collections. These functions return their result as a new collection containing the elements of the original collection in the requested order. To learn about functions for sorting mutable collections in place, see the List-specific operations.
The basic functions
sortedDescending() return elements of a collection sorted into ascending and descending sequence according to their natural order. These functions apply to collections of
For sorting in custom orders or sorting non-comparable objects, there are the functions
sortedByDescending(). They take a selector function that maps collection elements to
Comparable values and sort the collection in natural order of that values.
To define a custom order for the collection sorting, you can provide your own
Comparator. To do this, call the
sortedWith() function passing in your
Comparator. With this function, sorting strings by their length looks like this:
You can retrieve the collection in the reversed order using the
reversed() returns a new collection with the copies of the elements. So, if you change the original collection later, this won't affect the previously obtained results of
Another reversing function -
returns a reversed view of the same collection instance, so it may be more lightweight and preferable than
reversed()if the original list is not going to change.
If the original list is mutable, all its changes reflect in its reversed views and vice versa.
However, if the mutability of the list is unknown or the source is not a list at all,
reversed() is more preferable since its result is a copy that won't change in the future.