A Collection is an object that contains a set of values. Each value in a Collection is called an element.

The Collection intrinsic class is an abstract base class from which certain other intrinsic classes are derived. Because Collection is an abstract base class, you cannot create a Collection directly; you can only create its concrete subclasses. The Collection subclasses are:

The Collection base class provides a set of operations that is common to all of its derived classes, so that all of these classes can be treated the same way for certain operations. In particular, Collection provides a mechanism that lets you iterate over all of the elements without regard to the specific mechanisms that the subclass normally uses to access the elements.

Collection methods


Creates and returns an Iterator object. The Iterator is initialized so that it refers to the first element of the collection.

Note that, when you call this method, the Iterator object is initialized with a "snapshot" of the collection's contents. This means that you can use the Iterator to visit each element of the collection without having to worry about whether the collection can change. Even if you make changes to the contents of the collection after calling createIterator(), the Iterator object will refer to a consistent, frozen snapshot of the collection as it was when the Iterator was created.


Creates and returns a "live" Iterator object. A live iterator refers directly to the original collection, not a snapshot copy of the collection.

This method is provided mostly as an optimization for times when you know that the original collection won't be modified in the course of the iteration, or at the least that it won't be modified in such a way as to affect the iteration. Because the iterator object refers directly to the original collection, and not a frozen snapshot of it, changes made to the collection while traversing the elements using the iterator object could affect the iteration. If the collection changes while the Iterator is active, the Iterator is not guaranteed to visit every item in the collection, nor is it guaranteed to visit each item only once. Therefore, you should use createIterator() whenever there's any doubt as to whether the collection could be modified while the Iterator is active, and use createLiveIterator() only when you are certain the collection will not change.

Note that, for immutable collection objects, there is no difference between createIterator() and createLiveIterator(). For example, because a List object is immutable, a List returns identical iterators for both of these methods.