Return to Unit Menu | Java Main Page | | Terms of Use  

Searching for a Specific Value

***Definition:  A key is a value that you are looking for in an array.

The simplest type of search is the sequential search.  In the sequential search, each element of the array is compared to the key, in the order it appears in the array, until the desired element is found.  If you are looking for an element that is near the front of the array, the sequential search will find it quickly.  The more data that must be searched, the longer it will take to find the data that matches the key.

Consider this method which will search for a key integer value.  If found, the index (subscript) of the first location of the key will be returned.  If not found, a value of -1 will be returned.

public static int search(int [ ] numbers, int key)
       for (int index = 0; index < numbers.length; index++)
           if ( numbers[index] = = key )
                 return index;  //We found it!!!
     // If we get to the end of the loop, a value has not yet
     // been returned.  We did not find the key in this array.

     return -1;

If the key value is found, the index (subscript) of the location is returned.  This tells us that the return value x, will be the first integer found such that
numbers [ x ] = key.

There may be additional key locations in this array beyond this location.

Now, suppose you are searching for
 the number of times
a specific key value is included in an array:

//Find the number of times the name "Jones" appears in an array of name
public static void main(String[] args)
    String key = "Jones";
    String[ ] list = new String [100];  
// instantiate the array
    for ( int i=0; i<100; i++)  
  // fill the array
         list [ i ]=Console.readLine("Enter name:  ");
    int count = search (list, key);   
// invoke the method
    System.out.println("Count = " + count);
public static int search(String [ ] list, String key)
//method to find "Jones"

     int i, count = 0;
     for( i = 0; i< list.length; i++)
          if (list [ i ].equals( key ))
             count = count+1;
     return (count);

Here is yet another manner of searching:

Searching with BREAK and boolean:
// Search for the number 31 in a set of integers
// This search takes place in main.
// This search could also have been placed in a method.

public class BreakBooleanDemo
     public static void main(String[ ] args)
           int[ ] numbers = { 12, 13, 2, 33, 23, 31, 22, 6, 87, 16 };
           int key = 31;

           int i = 0;
           boolean found = false;    // set the boolean value to false until the key is found

          for ( i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++)
                 if (numbers[ i ]  == key)
                         found = true;     

          if (found)   //When found is true, the index of the location of key will be printed.
                System.out.println("Found " + key + " at index " + i + ".");
                System.out.println(key + "is not in this array.");

Return to Unit Menu | Java Main Page | | Terms of Use