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 Java Map WordCount

Here we'll look at the code for the Wordount problem, which is a classic example of using a Map to process bulk data. (The Java Map-2 section has practice problems similar to WordCount.)

Suppose we have an array or strings with lots of duplication, like this...

["a", "b", "a", "f", "b", "a", "z", ....]

We want to figure out which strings appear in the array and how many times each one appears. A map is a great way solve this, and WordCount is a nice example of the technique. Here is the WordCount strategy:

Try It Yourself

To try writing this code, here is a problem which is a little easier than wordCount: word0

And here is wordCount itself: wordCount

wordCount Solution Code

Here is the WordCount solution code. The key step is distinguishing the first time a string is seen vs. the later times. The code works by storing a count of 1 into the map the first time a string is seen, and then incrementing that count each later time that string is seen.

public Map<String, Integer> wordCount(String[] strings) {
  Map<String, Integer> map = new HashMap<String, Integer> ();
  for (String s:strings) {
    if (!map.containsKey(s)) {  // first time we've seen this string
      map.put(s, 1);
    else {
      int count = map.get(s);
      map.put(s, count + 1);
  return map;

The key algorithmic idea here is leveraging the ability of the map to look up a key quickly. When we get to the 10,000th string, we can look up its count quickly, no matter how far back in the array we saw it last.

More Practice

Here is a practice problem to do after wordCount: wordMultiple

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