mgamer mgamer - 4 months ago 35
Java Question

Cartesian product of arbitrary sets in Java

Do you know some neat Java libaries that allow you to make cartesian product of two (or more) sets?

For example: I have three sets. One with objects of class Person, second with objects of class Gift and third with objects of class GiftExtension.

I want to generate one set containing all possible triples Person-Gift-GiftExtension.

The number of sets might vary so I cannot do this in nested foreach loop.
Under some conditions my application needs to make a product of Person-Gift pair, sometimes it is triple Person-Gift-GiftExtension, sometimes there might even be sets Person-Gift-GiftExtension-GiftSecondExtension-GiftThirdExtension, etc.


Edit: Previous solutions for two sets removed. See edit history for details.

Here is a way to do it recursively for an arbitrary number of sets:

public static Set<Set<Object>> cartesianProduct(Set<?>... sets) {
    if (sets.length < 2)
        throw new IllegalArgumentException(
                "Can't have a product of fewer than two sets (got " +
                sets.length + ")");

    return _cartesianProduct(0, sets);

private static Set<Set<Object>> _cartesianProduct(int index, Set<?>... sets) {
    Set<Set<Object>> ret = new HashSet<Set<Object>>();
    if (index == sets.length) {
        ret.add(new HashSet<Object>());
    } else {
        for (Object obj : sets[index]) {
            for (Set<Object> set : _cartesianProduct(index+1, sets)) {
    return ret;

Note that it is impossible to keep any generic type information with the returned sets. If you knew in advance how many sets you wanted to take the product of, you could define a generic tuple to hold that many elements (for instance Triple<A, B, C>), but there is no way to have an arbitrary number of generic parameters in Java.