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Iterating a BitSet

1 reply [Last post]
Joined: 2003-06-12

I recently happened to use BitSet for implementing a sorting algorithm (The one mentioned in Programming Pearls book!!) and saw that the BitSet class does not come with an iterator. The javadoc does suggest a mechanism to iterate but it would be nice if this could be encapsulated in an iterator.My suggestion is an impl like this:

public class BitSetIterator {
private BitSet bitSet;
private int indexOfLastSetBit;

public BitSetIterator(BitSet bitSet) {
this.bitSet = bitSet;

public boolean hasMoreSetBits() {
return (bitSet.nextSetBit(indexOfLastSetBit)!= -1);

public int nextSetIndex() {
int index = bitSet.nextSetBit(indexOfLastSetBit);
indexOfLastSetBit = index + 1;
return index;

Of course more useful methods could be added to this like moving over clear bits, all bits etc.

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Joined: 2004-12-19

This would be (mostly) solved by the following idea:

Integer and Long would implement List, and would thus be iterable as if they were fixed-size arrays of Boolean values. They could replace BitSet for up to 64 bits. Perhaps this would show the way for a new class BitArray (implements List ) which could be used for more than 64 bits; you could use Integer or Long for efficiency if you knew fewer than 32 or 64 bits were needed.