Java – Iterating through a Collection, avoiding ConcurrentModificationException when removing objects in a loop

collectionsiterationjava

We all know you can't do the following because of ConcurrentModificationException:

for (Object i : l) {
    if (condition(i)) {
        l.remove(i);
    }
}

But this apparently works sometimes, but not always. Here's some specific code:

public static void main(String[] args) {
    Collection<Integer> l = new ArrayList<>();

    for (int i = 0; i < 10; ++i) {
        l.add(4);
        l.add(5);
        l.add(6);
    }

    for (int i : l) {
        if (i == 5) {
            l.remove(i);
        }
    }

    System.out.println(l);
}

This, of course, results in:

Exception in thread "main" java.util.ConcurrentModificationException

Even though multiple threads aren't doing it. Anyway.

What's the best solution to this problem? How can I remove an item from the collection in a loop without throwing this exception?

I'm also using an arbitrary Collection here, not necessarily an ArrayList, so you can't rely on get.

Best Solution

Iterator.remove() is safe, you can use it like this:

List<String> list = new ArrayList<>();

// This is a clever way to create the iterator and call iterator.hasNext() like
// you would do in a while-loop. It would be the same as doing:
//     Iterator<String> iterator = list.iterator();
//     while (iterator.hasNext()) {
for (Iterator<String> iterator = list.iterator(); iterator.hasNext();) {
    String string = iterator.next();
    if (string.isEmpty()) {
        // Remove the current element from the iterator and the list.
        iterator.remove();
    }
}

Note that Iterator.remove() is the only safe way to modify a collection during iteration; the behavior is unspecified if the underlying collection is modified in any other way while the iteration is in progress.

Source: docs.oracle > The Collection Interface


And similarly, if you have a ListIterator and want to add items, you can use ListIterator#add, for the same reason you can use Iterator#remove — it's designed to allow it.


In your case you tried to remove from a list, but the same restriction applies if trying to put into a Map while iterating its content.

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