Collections (Scala 2.8 - 2.12)

Trait Iterable


The next trait from the top in the collections hierarchy is Iterable. All methods in this trait are defined in terms of an abstract method, iterator, which yields the collection’s elements one by one. The foreach method from trait Traversable is implemented in Iterable in terms of iterator. Here is the actual implementation:

def foreach[U](f: Elem => U): Unit = {
  val it = iterator
  while (it.hasNext) f(

Quite a few subclasses of Iterable override this standard implementation of foreach in Iterable, because they can provide a more efficient implementation. Remember that foreach is the basis of the implementation of all operations in Traversable, so its performance matters.

Two more methods exist in Iterable that return iterators: grouped and sliding. These iterators, however, do not return single elements but whole subsequences of elements of the original collection. The maximal size of these subsequences is given as an argument to these methods. The grouped method returns its elements in “chunked” increments, where sliding yields a sliding “window” over the elements. The difference between the two should become clear by looking at the following REPL interaction:

scala> val xs = List(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
xs: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
scala> val git = xs grouped 3
git: Iterator[List[Int]] = non-empty iterator
res3: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3)
res4: List[Int] = List(4, 5)
scala> val sit = xs sliding 3
sit: Iterator[List[Int]] = non-empty iterator
res5: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3)
res6: List[Int] = List(2, 3, 4)
res7: List[Int] = List(3, 4, 5)

Trait Iterable also adds some other methods to Traversable that can be implemented efficiently only if an iterator is available. They are summarized in the following table.

Operations in Trait Iterable

Abstract Method:  
xs.iterator An iterator that yields every element in xs, in the same order as foreach traverses elements.
Other Iterators:  
xs grouped size An iterator that yields fixed-sized “chunks” of this collection.
xs sliding size An iterator that yields a sliding fixed-sized window of elements in this collection.
xs takeRight n A collection consisting of the last n elements of xs (or, some arbitrary n elements, if no order is defined).
xs dropRight n The rest of the collection except xs takeRight n.
xs zip ys An iterable of pairs of corresponding elements from xs and ys.
xs zipAll (ys, x, y) An iterable of pairs of corresponding elements from xs and ys, where the shorter sequence is extended to match the longer one by appending elements x or y.
xs.zipWithIndex An iterable of pairs of elements from xs with their indices.
xs sameElements ys A test whether xs and ys contain the same elements in the same order

In the inheritance hierarchy below Iterable you find three traits: Seq, Set, and Map. Seq and Map implement the PartialFunction trait with its apply and isDefinedAt methods, each implemented differently. Set gets its apply method from GenSetLike.

For sequences, apply is positional indexing, where elements are always numbered from 0. That is, Seq(1, 2, 3)(1) gives 2. For sets, apply is a membership test. For instance, Set('a', 'b', 'c')('b') gives true whereas Set()('a') gives false. Finally, for maps, apply is a selection. For instance, Map('a' -> 1, 'b' -> 10, 'c' -> 100)('b') gives 10.

In the following, we will explain each of the three kinds of collections in more detail.

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