What is the difference between C++ STL and the Java Collection Framework?

What is the difference between C++ STL and the Java Collection Framework?

Java and C++ are the most popular programming languages for learning data structures and algorithms. Both provide many features that stand them out from the crowd. In this blog, we will see the difference between C++ STL and Java Collection framework, which should give you an overview of data structure in these programming languages.

Introduction to Java

Java is one of the most famous and well-known languages in the field of computer science. It is used for building a wide range of applications, including web, mobile, and desktop applications.

Java is an object-oriented language, which means that it relies on the concept of objects that contain both data and code. It is platform-independent and you can run Java programs on any dive with a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) installed.

Collection Framework

Java Collection Framework is a set of pre-defined classes and interfaces that helps the programmer implement capabilities super fast without writing programs from scratch. It is also known as the API of Java which has many complex things stored in it, and using it is very easy.

Using a Collection framework will save you a lot of time while developing or writing the code. It performs different kinds of data structure operations like sorting, searching, traversing, storing the data, and processing it efficiently.

Suppose, I say to you to perform LIFO (Last In First Out) operation in C language and for this, you need to create a Stack implementing a stack from scratch is a bit hassle and takes a lot of time.

But in the Java Collection framework you don’t need to do anything for stack implementation it already provided you with predefined classes and you just need to know how to use them.

collection framework diagram

The Collection Framework comprises two parts:

  • Classes – A class is act as a blueprint for creating objects. It defines the data and behavior of a type. When you create an object from a class, it will create an instance of that class.
  • Interface– The interface act as a blueprint for a class that specifies the methods, the class must implement. Interface only define the method and it will not implement it by itself.

Learning C++ STL

STL stands for Standard Template Libraries and these are the set of tools available in C++ programming platforms. It is designed to be a general-purpose library that can be used in a wide variety of applications.

So whatever platform you are using these STLs will be there. STL helps us to code quickly, efficiently, and in a much more generic way. Because most of the data structure and algorithm we need to use in our code are already implemented in the STL library.

For example, let’s say you want to design an application where you need some sort of priority queue so instead of you designing it by yourself, you can directly use the implementation of a priority queue in C++ STL. It will help you to write your code much more quickly.

STL is very efficient and the implementation has evolved over time in the recent implementation even some of the abstractions are being optimized so that you don’t get any overhead due to different abstraction levels.

These are generic programming paradigms since the implementation doesn’t take into account a particular type but they are type agnostic and when you are using it, you have to provide the type. C++ enables generic programming by means of special constructs called templates.

STL – Flow Chart

STL has 4 components

There are four components of STL and these are mentioned below:


These are just array-like data structures that store a Collection of objects, so you need some data structure where you store it.


These are pointer-like objects that allow the traversal of containers and access to the elements in a container.


These are a set of functions that are implemented in an efficient way and these are implemented in different algorithm operations such as sort, search, modify, count, etc.


These are objects that behave like functions but can store state and be passed as arguments to algorithms.

Similarities and Differences: Containers in STL and Java Collections Framework

The Standard Template Library (STL) in C++ and the Java Collections Framework (JCF) are both libraries that provide container classes for storing and manipulating collections of objects.

Features like C++ STL and Java collection framework are very different from each other but yet work on reducing the stress of a developer to implement data structure from scratch. There are several similarities and differences between the two frameworks.

Different between Containers STL in C++ And Java Collections Framework

  • The Standard Template Library is a part of the C++ standard, while Java Collection Framework is a part of the Java standard.
  • While implementing STL uses template classes, and JCF uses interfaces and implementation classes.
  • JCF provides additional features and functionality not found in the STL, such as support for concurrent access and modification of the collections by multiple threads, and the Queue interface for implementing FIFO data structures.
  • The STL does not have a direct equivalent of the Java interface List, but rather provides several classes for different types of lists, such as vector, deque, and list.
A standard Template Library is a standard library that is essentially a set of functions that can be used in classes.Java Collection Framework is a framework that embodies many built-in functions which can be customized or designed as per need.
STL allows functions as a parameter in C++ Functions as a parameter in Java are not allowed.
Containers in STL can contain objects and algorithms or objects of primitive types either on containers or arrays.In java, containers contain only objects and the algorithm are defined separately for both containers and arrays.
STL doesn’t support Interfaces.JCF supports interfaces and depended on them.
The STL library includes the support for a memory allocation model and the programmers are needed to be aware of it while using any sort of thing that is related to memory allocations.As Compared to STL, the Java Collection framework doesn’t support or address either of these issues.
Algorithms in STL are independent of the container.Algorithms are managed and organized by the containers.
difference between STL and JCF

Similarities Containers in STL in C++and Java Collections Framework with Examples

  • The C++ STL and Java Collection frameworks provide a range of container classes for data structure algorithms like storing and manipulating collections of objects, such as arrays, linked lists, sets, and maps.
  • Both frameworks provide iteration for traversing and accessing the elements in the containers.
  • Both frameworks provide generic programming support, allowing users to define container classes for specific types of objects.

C++ enables generic programming by means of special constructs called Templates. So templates provide generic programming in C++ principles and act as special constructs.

Examples of STL and JCF

Let’s take an example of how the Java Collection and STL library actually work. This will give an overview of the code structure and a simple explanation of how things actually functioned in C++ STL and Java Collection framework.

Example of C++ STL

Let’s take an example if you want to define a function of the area of a rectangle that takes the input and provides the result. But not sure if the value will be an integer or double or float in this scenario you can use generic types in C++ which defines the structure and works on the types provided by the user.

Check the output and run the code here.

#include <iostream> using namespace std; template <typename T> T area_rectangle(T a , T b){ T result = a*b; return result; } int main(){ int x1 = area_rectangle<int>(5,4); double x2 = area_rectangle<double>(5.5, 4.4); cout << x1<< "," << x2 << endl; }
Code language: C++ (cpp)

This is a simple example of a template in C++ but it also has a very complex function and algorithms that are implemented in this generic way and it can be used with different types.

Example of Java Collection Framework

The Java Collections Framework is a set of classes and interfaces that support operations on collections of objects. It provides various interfaces and classes for storing and manipulating data in different ways, such as lists, sets, queues, and maps.

For example, the ArrayList class is a concrete implementation of the List interface, which extends the Collection interface. The ArrayList the class provides an implementation of a list using an array as the underlying data structure. This can help you to implement the ArrayList class to create a list of objects and perform operations on that list, such as adding or removing elements.

Here is an example with code: Run the code on Codedamn Playground to see the output

import java.util.ArrayList; public class Main { public static void main(String[] args) { ArrayList<String> names = new ArrayList<>(); names.add("codedamn"); names.add("is"); names.add("awesome"); for (String name : names) { System.out.println(name); } } }
Code language: Java (java)


The Standard Template Library (STL) in C++ and the Java Collections Framework (JCF) are both libraries that provide various container classes and tools for storing and manipulating collections of objects.

The major difference between C++ STL and Java Collection frameworks is mostly in their behavior of performance and implementation. One can use any of them as per their work and convenience as it makes code look better and easy to implement too.

Frequently Asked Questions to Resolve(FAQs)

Which is better Java collection or C++ STL?

It will not be accurate to say which one is better than the other, as in general, both the C++ STL and java Collection framework are useful tools for storing and manipulating collections of objects, and the choice of which one to use will depend on the specific needs and constraints of your project.

Can we use C++ STL in competitive programming?

Yes, the Standard Template Library (STL) in C++ can be used in competitive programming. It is a powerful and efficient library and it is widely used in C++ programming and is often employed in competitive programming to solve various problems efficiently.

But it is important to note that while using the STL in competitive programming it may not always be the best choice, as it makes the code sometimes longer and less readable, which could be a drawback in a time-constrained environment such as a programming competition.

Therefore, it is generally a good idea to consider the trade-offs between the efficiency and convenience provided by the STL and the readability and simplicity of the code when deciding whether to use the STL in competitive programming.

What are the advantages of STL in C++? 

There are several advantages of using the STL in C++:

  • Efficient and Flexible: STL provides a range of efficient and flexible container classes and algorithms for storing and manipulating collections of objects.
  • Simplified Development: The STL allows you to write generic, reusable code that can be easily adapted to different types of objects.

In addition to these benefits, the STL is also widely used and well-documented, which makes it easier to learn and use in your C++ projects.

What is the equivalent of STL in Java? 

The Java Collections Framework (JCF) is the equivalent of the Standard Template Library (STL) in C++ for the Java programming language. The JCF is a set of interfaces and classes that provides various container classes for storing and manipulating collections of objects, such as lists, sets, and maps. It is part of the Java standard library and is designed specifically for use with the Java language.

Does C++ pay more than Java?

In general, software developers who have a strong foundation in multiple programming languages and technologies are often in high demand and may command higher salaries. Therefore, having expertise in both C++ and Java can be an advantage in the job market.

It is always a good idea to research the job market and salary trends in your area to get a better understanding of the current demand for different programming languages and technologies.

Codedamn provided a great resource for Java and If you want to become a software engineer, Java is something that you should have under your belt. Java is the most popular and demanded language in the industry. Java has the best built-in support for OOPS.

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