Using the Methods of Map

Using the Methods of Map

One problem with basing the to-do manager on priority queues, as we have done in the last two chapters, is that priority queues are unable to preserve the order in which elements are added to them (unless that can be incorporated in the priority ordering, for example as a timestamp or sequence number). To avoid this, we could use as an alternative model a series of FIFO queues, each one assigned to a single priority. A Map would be suitable for holding the association between priorities and task queues; EnumMap in particular is a highly efficient Map implementation specialized for use with keys which are members of an enum.

This model will rely on a Queue implementation that maintains FIFO ordering. To focus on the use of the Map methods, let's assume a single-threaded client and use a series of ArrayDeques as the implementation:

Map<Priority,ArrayDeque<Task>> taskMap =
  new EnumMap<Priority,ArrayDeque<Task>>(Priority.class);
for (Priority p : Priority.values()) {
  taskMap.put(p, new ArrayDeque<Task>());
// populate the lists, for example:

Now, to get to one of the task queuessay, the one with the highest-priority taskswe can write:

Queue<Task> highPriorityTaskList = taskMap.get(Priority.HIGH);

Polling this queue will now give us the high priority to-dos, in the order in which they were entered into the system.

To see the use of some of the other methods of Map, let's extend the example a little to allow for the possibility that some of these tasks might actually earn us some money by being billable. One way of representing this would be by defining a class Client:

class Client {...}
Client acme = new Client("Acme Corp.",...);

and creating a mapping from tasks to clients:

Map<Task,Client> billingMap = new HashMap<Task,Client>();
billingMap.put(interfaceCode, acme);

We need to ensure that the system can still handle nonbillable tasks. We have a choice here: we can either simply not add the name of a nonbillable task into the billingMap, or we can map it to null. In either case, as part of the code for processing a task t, we can write:

Task t = ...
Client client = billingMap.get(t);
if (client != null) {

When we have finally finished all the work we were contracted to do by our client Acme Corp., the map entries that associate tasks with Acme can be removed:

Collection<Client> clients = billingMap.values();
for (Iterator<Client> iter = clients.iterator() ; iter.hasNext() ; ) {
  if (  {

A neater alternative takes advantage of the method Collections.singleton (see Section 17.2), a factory method which returns an immutable Set containing only the specified element:


Both ways cost O(n), with similar constant factors in Sun's current implementation.

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