8.2.1. Nested Loops for 2D Arrays

In this lesson, you will learn how to use nested loops to traverse a 2D Array.

8.2.2. Getting the Number of Rows and Columns

Arrays know their length (how many elements they can store). The length is a public read-only field so you can use dot-notation to access the field (arrayName.length). The length of the outer array is the number of rows and the length of one of the inner arrays is the number of columns.

ticketInfo.length // returns the number of rows
ticketInfo[0].length // returns the number of columns


Note that length is a field and not a method, so you don’t add parentheses after length. However, if you use parentheses after length during the exam, you won’t lose any points. Since for the AP CS A exam all two-dimensional arrays are rectangular arrays (arrays that have the same number of columns in each row) you can just use the length of the first inner array as the number of columns as shown by ticketInfo[0].length.

exercise Check your understanding

    8-2-1: How many rows does a have if it is created as follows int[][] a = { {2, 4, 6, 8}, {1, 2, 3, 4}};?

  • 2
  • The size of outer list is the number of rows.
  • 4
  • The size of the inner list is the number of columns.
  • 8
  • This is the total number of items in the array.

    8-2-2: Which of the following would I use to get the value in the third row and second column from a 2D array called nums?

  • nums[3][2]
  • This would be true if array indices started with 1 but they start with 0.
  • nums[2][3]
  • This would be true if array indicies started with 1 and the column was specified first. However, array indices start at 0 and the row is given first in row-major order.
  • nums[2][1]
  • Array indices start with 0 so the third row has an index of 2 and the second column has an index of 1.
  • nums[1][2]
  • This would be true if the column index was first, but in row-major order the row index is first.

8.2.3. Looping Through a 2D Array

Since you can find out the number of rows and columns in a 2D array you can use a nested for loop (one loop inside of another loop) to loop/traverse through all of the elements of a 2D array.

int[][] array = { {1,2,3},{4,5,6}};
for (int row = 0; row < array.length; row++)
    for (int col = 0; col < array[0].length; col++)
         System.out.println( array[row][col] );

coding exercise Coding Exercise

What does the following code do? Add another row of numbers to the matrix. Will the loops traverse this row too? Note that an array can be passed in as an argument to a method.

Some key things to notice about this code are:

You can step through the code by clicking on this link1

exercise Mixed up programs

        8-2-3: The following has the correct code to find the largest value in a 2D array. Drag the blocks from the left into the correct order on the right and indent them as well. Check your solution by clicking on the Check Me button.  You will be told if any of the blocks are in the wrong order or have the wrong indention.public static int getLargest(int[][] arr)  {
 int largest = arr[0][0];
 int current = 0;
 for (int r = 0; r < arr.length; r++)  {
   for (int c = 0; c < arr[0].length; c++)  {
     current = arr[r][c];
     if (current > largest)  {
       largest = current;
     } // end if
   } // end column loop
 } // end row loop
 return largest;
} // end method

You can step through this code using the Java Visualizer by clicking on the following Java Visualizer.

Most nested loops with 2D Arrays use “row-major order” where the outer loop goes through each row. However, you can write nested loops that traverse in “column-major order” like below.

coding exercise Coding Exercise

What will the following code print out? Try to guess before you run it.

This lesson is continued on the next page.

You have attempted of activities on this page