Jodes Jodes - 2 months ago 10x
Java Question

Find indexOf a byte array within another byte array

Given a byte array, how can I find within it, the position of a (smaller) byte array?

This documentation looked promising, using

, but if I'm correct it would only let me find an individual byte within the array to be searched.

(I can't see it mattering, but just in case: sometimes the search byte array will be regular ASCII characters, other times it will be control characters or extended ASCII characters. So using String operations would not always be appropriate)

The large array could be between 10 and about 10000 bytes, and the smaller array around 10. In some cases I will have several smaller arrays that I want found within the larger array in a single search. And I will at times want to find the last index of an instance rather than the first.


Java strings are composed of 16-bit chars, not of 8-bit bytes. A char can hold a byte, so you can always make your byte arrays into strings, and use indexOf: ASCII characters, control characters, and even zero characters will work fine.

Here is a demo:

byte[] big = new byte[] {1,2,3,0,4,5,6,7,0,8,9,0,0,1,2,3,4};
byte[] small = new byte[] {7,0,8,9,0,0,1};
String bigStr = new String(big);
String smallStr = new String(small);

This prints 7.

However, considering that your large array could be up to 10,000 bytes, and the small array is only ten bytes, this solution may not be the most efficient, for two reasons:

  • It requires copying your big array into an array that is twice as large (same capacity, but with char instead of byte). This triples your memory requirements.
  • String search algorithm of Java is not the fastest one available. You may get sufficiently faster if you implement one of the advanced algorithms, for example, the Knuth–Morris–Pratt one. This could potentially bring the execution speed down by a factor of up to ten (the length of the small string), and will require additional memory that is proportional to the length of the small string, not the big string.