Multidimensional arrays in java
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Multidimensional Arrays in Java. Vidhu S. Kapadia. The Basic Definitions. What is an Array? An array is a fixed size sequential collection of elements of identical types. They are created with either a new operator or array initializes

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The basic definitions l.jpg
The Basic Definitions

  • What is an Array?

    • An array is a fixed size sequential collection of elements of identical types.

    • They are created with either a new operator or array initializes

    • The storage space for arrays is allocated from the garbage-collected heap.

    • The element in an array are indexed by the integers 0 to n- 1, where n is the size of the array

Declaring an array l.jpg
Declaring an Array

  • Using the newoperator

     new Type [ ]

    Here the size of the array must be specified, and all the elements in the array are initialized to the default initial values based on the types of elements.

    • int ia1 = new int [3];

      //creates an integer array of size 3; all elements are initialized to 0

    • Point pa [ ] = new Point [10];

      //creates an array of points of size 10; all elements are initialized to null

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Declaring an Array

  • Using the one-dimensional array initializer

    {v0, v1, …..,vn-1}

    The values forv0, v1, …..,vn-1 are the initial values of the elements in the array. The size of the array is determined by the number of initial values provided in the array initializer

    • Int ia2 [ ] = {1, 2, 3};

      // Creates an array of size 3; elements are initialized to 1, 2, and 3 respectively

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What are Multidimensional Arrays

  • A multidimensional array is treated as an array of arrays.

    • Let a be a k-dimensional array; the elements of a can be accessed using the following syntax:

      a [ i1 ] [ i2 ]…[ ik ]

      where n1, n2, ….., nk

Multidimensional arrays l.jpg
Multidimensional Arrays

  • Applying what we learned about simple arrays to multidimensionalarray, we get the following:

    A k-dimensional array can be created with either of the following methods:

    • Using the new operator

    • Using the k-dimensional initializer

Creating k dimensional array l.jpg

Using the new operator

new Type [ n1] [n2]…[nk]

Size of each dimension is n1, n2, …,nk, respectively.

All the elements in the array are initialized to default initial values based on the type of the elements

Using k-dimensional array initializer

{I1, I2, ...., Ik}

where eachI1, I2, ...., Ikis a (k-1)- dimensional array initializer.

Creating k-dimensional Array

Examples l.jpg

Using the new operator, the following example is of creating and initializing a two-dimensional array.

double mat1[ ][ ] = new double[4][5];

This creates a 4 x 5 two-dimensional array. All elements are initialized to 0.0.

Using k-dimensional array initializer, the following example is of creating and initializing a two-dimensional array.

int mat2[ ] [ ] = {{1, 2, 3}, {4, 5, 6}};

This creates a 2 x 3 two-dimensional array. The elements are initialized as:

mat2[0][0]=1 mat2[1][0]= 4

mat2[0][1]=2 mat2[1][1]= 5

mat2[0][2]=3 mat2[1][2]= 6


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Processing Multidimensional Arrays

  • Multidimensional arrays are often processed using for statements.

    To process all the items in a two-dimensional array, a for statement needs to be nested inside another.

    int[ ][ ] A = new int[3][4];

    The following loop stores 0 into each location in two dimensional array A :

    for (int row = 0; row < 3; row++)


    for (int column = 0; column < 4; column++)


    A [row][column] = 0;



An example l.jpg
An Example:

  • Using a mathematical function in the Java Math class and handling of two–dimensional arrays, the following example calculates the max – min value.

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public class MaxMin{

public static void main(String[]args) {

double mat[ ] [ ]= { {2.3, 5.1, 9.9},

{8.3, 4.5, 7.7},

{ 5.2, 6.1, 2.8}}

int n = mat.length;

int m= mat[0].length;

double maxmin = 0.0;

for (int j = 0; j < m; j++){

double min = mat[j][0];

for (int i = 1; I <n ; i ++){

min = Math.min(min,mat[i][j]);


if (j==0){

maxmin = min;


maxmin = Math.max(maxmin, min);



System.out.println(“The max-min value is” + maxmin);



  • Running the program produces the following result:

    The max-min value is 4.5

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Keep in mind that

  • Computer memory is linear –

  • In accessing a multidimensional array you are really accessing a one-dimensional array in memory.

  • You can simulate multidimensional arrays by packing them into a one-dimensional array.

  • The two manners of packing the one-dimensional array are row-major order, where the array is filled one row at a time; and column-major order, where columns are placed into the array.

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Interesting Tidbits about Arrays in Java

  • One of the main differences between the arrays in Java and those in C/C++ is that the Java arrays are ALWAYS bounds-checked at run time.

  • Array bound-checking will automatically detect a major source of faults in programs, that is exceeding the bounds of arrays while accessing or manipulating their elements.

  • There is no limit on the number of dimensions that an array type can have. However, arrays of dimension three or higher are fairly uncommon.

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  • Jia, Xiaoping. Object Oriented Software Development using Java- 2nd edition, Adison Wesley 2003

  • The historical collection classes – Arrays, IBM. April, 16, 2006, 

  • Array initialization, The Code Guru. April, 16, 2006,