Java Program to Sort ArrayList of Custom Objects By Property

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Sorting an ArrayList of Custom Objects in Java: A Comprehensive Guide


In Java programming, sorting collections of custom objects is a common task that developers encounter in various scenarios. Understanding how to sort an ArrayList of custom objects based on a specific property is crucial for efficient data manipulation. In this blog post, we will explore a Java program that demonstrates how to sort an ArrayList of custom objects by a chosen property. Through practical examples and an in-depth explanation of the underlying algorithm, you will gain a solid understanding of the sorting process.

Sorting Algorithm Overview

The sorting algorithm we will implement is based on the Comparator interface in Java. The Comparator interface allows us to define custom comparison logic for objects. We will create a custom comparator for our custom objects, specifying the property by which we want to sort.

Here are the key steps of the sorting algorithm:

  1. Define a Custom Object: Create a custom class representing the objects stored in the ArrayList. This class should implement the Comparable interface to provide natural ordering or include a custom comparator.

  2. Create a Custom Comparator: Implement a custom comparator class that compares objects based on the desired property. This class should implement the Comparator interface.

  3. Sort the ArrayList: Use the Collections.sort() method to sort the ArrayList using the custom comparator.

Now, let’s walk through the Java program with detailed explanations and examples.

Java Program: Sorting ArrayList of Custom Objects

Step 1: Define a Custom Object

public class Student implements Comparable<Student> {

    private String name;
    private int age;

    // Constructors, getters, and setters

    public int compareTo(Student otherStudent) {
        // Implement natural ordering logic (e.g., by name)

In this example, we have a Student class with a name property. The class implements the Comparable interface, providing a natural ordering based on the student’s name. If you want to sort by a different property, modify the compareTo method accordingly.

Step 2: Create a Custom Comparator

import java.util.Comparator;

public class StudentAgeComparator implements Comparator<Student> {

    public int compare(Student student1, Student student2) {
        // Implement custom comparison logic (e.g., by age)
        return, student2.getAge());

Here, we create a custom comparator (StudentAgeComparator) that compares students based on their age. You can create multiple custom comparators for different sorting criteria.

Step 3: Sort the ArrayList

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Collections;
import java.util.List;

public class Main {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Create an ArrayList of Student objects
        List<Student> students = new ArrayList<>();
        students.add(new Student("Alice", 21));
        students.add(new Student("Bob", 19));
        students.add(new Student("Charlie", 20));

        // Sort the ArrayList by name (natural ordering)

        // Print the sorted list
        System.out.println("Sorted by name:");
        for (Student student : students) {
            System.out.println(student.getName() + " - " + student.getAge() + " years old");

        // Sort the ArrayList by age using a custom comparator
        Collections.sort(students, new StudentAgeComparator());

        // Print the sorted list
        System.out.println("\nSorted by age:");
        for (Student student : students) {
            System.out.println(student.getName() + " - " + student.getAge() + " years old");

In the main method, we create an ArrayList of Student objects and demonstrate two types of sorting: natural ordering (by name) and sorting by age using the custom comparator.

Output Example

Sorted by name:
Alice - 21 years old
Bob - 19 years old
Charlie - 20 years old

Sorted by age:
Bob - 19 years old
Charlie - 20 years old
Alice - 21 years old


Sorting an ArrayList of custom objects in Java involves implementing the Comparator interface to define custom comparison logic. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can create a robust sorting mechanism tailored to your specific needs.

As a Java developer, mastering the art of sorting custom objects provides you with a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data efficiently. Incorporate these sorting techniques into your projects, explore additional sorting strategies, and refine your skills in working with collections in Java. Sorting is a fundamental operation, and understanding how to customize it enhances your ability to manipulate data structures effectively.

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