The sequence traits Seq, IndexedSeq, and LinearSeq


The Seq trait represents sequences. A sequence is a kind of iterable that has a length and whose elements have fixed index positions, starting from 0.

The operations on sequences, summarized in the table below, fall into the following categories:

  • Indexing and length operations apply, isDefinedAt, length, indices, and lengthCompare. For a Seq, the apply operation means indexing; hence a sequence of type Seq[T] is a partial function that takes an Int argument (an index) and which yields a sequence element of type T. In other words Seq[T] extends PartialFunction[Int, T]. The elements of a sequence are indexed from zero up to the length of the sequence minus one. The length method on sequences is an alias of the size method of general collections. The lengthCompare method allows you to compare the lengths of a sequences with an Int or with an Iterable even if the sequences has infinite length.
  • Index search operations indexOf, lastIndexOf, indexOfSlice, lastIndexOfSlice, indexWhere, lastIndexWhere, segmentLength, which return the index of an element equal to a given value or matching some predicate.
  • Addition operations prepended, prependedAll, appended, appendedAll, padTo, which return new sequences obtained by adding elements at the front or the end of a sequence.
  • Update operations updated, patch, which return a new sequence obtained by replacing some elements of the original sequence.
  • Sorting operations sorted, sortWith, sortBy, which sort sequence elements according to various criteria.
  • Reversal operations reverse, reverseIterator, which yield or process sequence elements in reverse order.
  • Comparisons startsWith, endsWith, contains, containsSlice, corresponds, search, which relate two sequences or search an element in a sequence.
  • Multiset operations intersect, diff, distinct, distinctBy, which perform set-like operations on the elements of two sequences or remove duplicates.

If a sequence is mutable, it offers in addition a side-effecting update method, which lets sequence elements be updated. As always in Scala, syntax like seq(idx) = elem is just a shorthand for seq.update(idx, elem), so update gives convenient assignment syntax for free. Note the difference between update and updated. update changes a sequence element in place, and is only available for mutable sequences. updated is available for all sequences and always returns a new sequence instead of modifying the original.

Operations in Class Seq

Indexing and Length:  
xs(i) (or, written out, xs.apply(i)). The element of xs at index i.
xs.isDefinedAt(i) Tests whether i is contained in xs.indices.
xs.length The length of the sequence (same as size).
xs.lengthCompare(n) Returns -1 if xs is shorter than n, +1 if it is longer, and 0 if it is of length n. Works even if the sequence is infinite, for example LazyList.from(1).lengthCompare(42) returns a positive value.
xs.indices The index range of xs, extending from 0 to xs.length - 1.
Index Search:  
xs.indexOf(x) The index of the first element in xs equal to x (several variants exist).
xs.lastIndexOf(x) The index of the last element in xs equal to x (several variants exist).
xs.indexOfSlice(ys) The first index of xs such that successive elements starting from that index form the sequence ys.
xs.lastIndexOfSlice(ys) The last index of xs such that successive elements starting from that index form the sequence ys.
xs.indexWhere(p) The index of the first element in xs that satisfies p (several variants exist).
xs.segmentLength(p, i) The length of the longest uninterrupted segment of elements in xs, starting with xs(i), that all satisfy the predicate p.
or x +: xs
A new sequence that consists of x prepended to xs.
or ys ++: xs
A new sequence that consists of all the elements of ys prepended to xs.
or xs :+ x
A new sequence that consists of x appended to xs.
or xs :++ ys
A new sequence that consists of all the elements of ys appended to xs.
xs.padTo(len, x) The sequence resulting from appending the value x to xs until length len is reached.
xs.patch(i, ys, r) The sequence resulting from replacing r elements of xs starting with i by the patch ys.
xs.updated(i, x) A copy of xs with the element at index i replaced by x.
xs(i) = x (or, written out, xs.update(i, x), only available for mutable.Seqs). Changes the element of xs at index i to x.
xs.sorted A new sequence obtained by sorting the elements of xs using the standard ordering of the element type of xs.
xs.sortWith(lt) A new sequence obtained by sorting the elements of xs using lt as comparison operation.
xs.sortBy(f) A new sequence obtained by sorting the elements of xs. Comparison between two elements proceeds by mapping the function f over both and comparing the results.
xs.reverse A sequence with the elements of xs in reverse order.
xs.reverseIterator An iterator yielding all the elements of xs in reverse order.
xs.sameElements(ys) A test whether xs and ys contain the same elements in the same order
xs.startsWith(ys) Tests whether xs starts with sequence ys (several variants exist).
xs.endsWith(ys) Tests whether xs ends with sequence ys (several variants exist).
xs.contains(x) Tests whether xs has an element equal to x. Tests whether a sorted sequence xs has an element equal to x, possibly in a more efficient way than xs.contains(x).
xs.containsSlice(ys) Tests whether xs has a contiguous subsequence equal to ys.
xs.corresponds(ys)(p) Tests whether corresponding elements of xs and ys satisfy the binary predicate p.
Multiset Operations:  
xs.intersect(ys) The multi-set intersection of sequences xs and ys that preserves the order of elements in xs.
xs.diff(ys) The multi-set difference of sequences xs and ys that preserves the order of elements in xs.
xs.distinct A subsequence of xs that contains no duplicated element.
xs.distinctBy(f) A subsequence of xs that contains no duplicated element after applying the transforming function f. For instance, List("foo", "bar", "quux").distinctBy(_.length) == List("foo", "quux")

Trait Seq has two subtraits LinearSeq, and IndexedSeq. These do not add any new operations to the immutable branch, but each offers different performance characteristics: A linear sequence has efficient head and tail operations, whereas an indexed sequence has efficient apply, length, and (if mutable) update operations. Frequently used linear sequences are scala.collection.immutable.List and scala.collection.immutable.LazyList. Frequently used indexed sequences are scala.Array and scala.collection.mutable.ArrayBuffer. The Vector class provides an interesting compromise between indexed and linear access. It has both effectively constant time indexing overhead and constant time linear access overhead. Because of this, vectors are a good foundation for mixed access patterns where both indexed and linear accesses are used. You’ll learn more on vectors later.

On the mutable branch, IndexedSeq adds operations for transforming its elements in place (by contrast with transformation operations such as map and sort, available on the root Seq, which return a new collection instance).

Operations in Class mutable.IndexedSeq

xs.mapInPlace(f) Transforms all the elements of xs by applying the f function to each of them.
xs.sortInPlace() Sorts the collection xs.
xs.sortInPlaceWith(c) Sorts the collection xs according to the given comparison function c.
xs.sortInPlaceBy(f) Sorts the collection xs according to an ordering defined on the result of the application of the function f to each element.


An important sub-category of mutable sequences is Buffers. They allow not only updates of existing elements but also element additions, insertions and removals. The principal new methods supported by a buffer are append and appendAll for element addition at the end, prepend and prependAll for addition at the front, insert and insertAll for element insertions, as well as remove, subtractOne and subtractAll for element removal. These operations are summarized in the following table.

Two often used implementations of buffers are ListBuffer and ArrayBuffer. As the name implies, a ListBuffer is backed by a List, and supports efficient conversion of its elements to a List, whereas an ArrayBuffer is backed by an array, and can be quickly converted into one.

Operations in Class Buffer

or buf += x
Appends element x to buffer, and returns buf itself as result.
orbuf ++= xs
Appends all elements in xs to buffer.
or x +=: buf
Prepends element x to buffer.
or xs ++=: buf
Prepends all elements in xs to buffer.
buf.insert(i, x) Inserts element x at index i in buffer.
buf.insertAll(i, xs) Inserts all elements in xs at index i in buffer.
buf.padToInPlace(n, x) Appends element x to buffer until it has n elements in total.
or buf -= x
Removes element x from buffer.
or buf --= xs
Removes elements in xs from buffer.
buf.remove(i) Removes element at index i from buffer.
buf.remove(i, n) Removes n elements starting at index i from buffer.
buf.trimStart(n) Removes first n elements from buffer.
buf.trimEnd(n) Removes last n elements from buffer.
buf.clear() Removes all elements from buffer.
buf.patchInPlace(i, xs, n) Replaces (at most) n elements of buffer by elements in xs, starting from index i in buffer.
buf.clone() A new buffer with the same elements as buf.

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