I started my career as a Java developer back in 2011. I developed most of my code in the 1.7 version of Java. Around 2014, I switched to full-time Scala and have not programmed in Java ever since.

Java used to be a slow-moving language that had started lagging behind the other languages. Scala kind of filled that gap of modern language on a JVM. But in the last few years, it has changed. There is a new version of Java every 6 months and it has been getting new features at a very rapid pace. So I thought it will be interesting to go back to Java now and see how it has evolved compared to Java 7.

So in this series of posts, I will be talking about new features of Java from a Scala developer’s point of view. I will be using Java 17, the latest LTS version, for these examples.

This is the fourth post in the series where I will be talking about the higher order functions. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Higher Ordered Functions

A higher order function is a function, that can take another function as input or return a function. Higher order functions are corner stone of functional programming in any language.

In this post, we will discuss how Java lambda expressions can be used in higher order functions context.

Function as Input in Scala

def inputFormatter(value:String, fmt:(String) => String):String= {

In above code, we define a function inputFormatter which takes another function fmt as input. Here inputFormatter becomes higher order function.

The above function can be invoked as below

val formattedValue = inputFormatter("hello world" ,(value) => "the formatted value is :" + value)

Function as Input in Java

Same example now can be written in Java as below

static String inputFormatter(String data, Function<String,String> fmt) {

    return fmt.apply(data);

In above code, we are using Function type that is discussed in earlier posts.

Now above higher ordered function can be invoked as below using lambda expression.

var formattedString = inputFormatter("hello world", (value) -> "the formatted value is :"+value);

Function as Return Type in Scala

Next aspect of higher ordered functions we are going to see is, how to return a function from another function.

def delayedSupplier(data:String) = {
    () => "length of the string is " + data.length

In above code, higher ordered function delayedSupplier returns another function which is used for deferred execution.

Above code can be invoked using below code

val delayedSupplierRef = delayedSupplier("hello world")

Function as Return Type in Java

Now same example can be written in Java as below.

static Supplier<String> delayedSupplier(String data) {
       return () -> {
            //do some costly work which needs to be run only when needed
            return "length of the string is "+data.length();

Here we are using helper function type Supplier to return a function.

The above function can be invoked as below

var delayedSupplier = delayedSupplier("hello world");


The complete code for the above examples can be found on Github, in the below links.

Java Higher Ordered Functions.

Scala Higher Ordered Functions.


In this post, we looked how we can write higher ordered functions in Java using it’s functional programming capabilities.