Forums > Java

string to float[]?

Mar 09 2006 | 1:24 pm

hi java heads,
suppose you have floating point data in a string representation,
terminated by a ";"

String myData = "0.051 0.312 0.819 …. 0.123;" ;

is there an easy way to convert this into a float array?

myFloatArr[0] = 0.051;
myFloatArr[1] = 0.312;
myFloatArr[2] = 0.819;

myFloatArr[x] = 0.123;


Mar 09 2006 | 2:55 pm

dunno how easy you’re looking for, but this works:

String myData = "0.051 -0.312 0.819 0.123;";
String[] myDataArr = myData.split(" +|;");
float[] myFloatArr = new float[myDataArr.length];
for (int i = 0; i < myDataArr.length; i++) {
myFloatArr[i] = Float.valueof(myDataArr[i]).floatValue();

you may want to tweak the regex used in .split() to make it a little
more robust depending on the source of your myData strings..

best regards,

Mar 09 2006 | 3:03 pm

Hi Volker,

This should work (using java.util.regex.Pattern is more efficient than
String.split() for repeated calls, which I assume you want):

String test = "0.001 0.002 0.003 0.004;";

Pattern patt = Pattern.compile("[\s+,;]");

String [] res = patt.split(test);

float[] nums = new float[res.length];


for(int i = 0; i
nums[i] = Float.parseFloat(res[i]);

Regex isn’t exactly my strongest area, and this will blow up quite
easily if there’s unexpected input, so fails the ‘liberal in what you
receive’ test, but if you’re sure you’ll be dealing with well-formed
input it’ll get the job done.


Mar 09 2006 | 7:03 pm

hey ritchie and owen, thanks for your suggestions.
both your versions work.
i had tried something similar – without success… but i found the
mistake through your examples.

actually the whole story is a little more complicated (or easier?)
i’m receiving data via UDP from another app which is analysing images
from a 3d camera.
it’s quite a lot of data (at 25 fps). so i’d really like to have that
networking stuff as fast as possible…

so i am receiving the data in a byte array and this byte stream
represents floating point data (that’s what the other app is sending)
buffer[] myBytes = {50, 46, 55, 51, 55, 57, 54, 32, 45, 48, 46, 51,
57, 51, 53, 52, 54, 32, … 59, 10}

i would like to arrive at a float array to finally dump the data into
a jitter matrix.
float[] myFloats = {2.73796, -0.394, … }

String myDataString = new String(myBytes);
this turns the whole thing into a string. so i could carry on with
your suggestions. this works.
(i have to watch out for the end of the string since floatValue() or
parseFloat() doesn’t like empty strings, but i managed to handle that)

my other approach goes like this:

StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer();
String tempString = null;
int i = 0;
int index = 0;

while(true) {
if( myBytes[i]==32 ) {
tempString = sb.toString();
floatArr[index] = Float.valueOf(tempString).floatValue();
sb = new StringBuffer();
else if( myBytes[i]==59 ) {
tempString = sb.toString();
else {

is this a good idea? which approach would be better?
seems like a common problem to me, so maybe there is something more
straight forward?
any suggestions welcome.

Mar 09 2006 | 11:13 pm

vb wrote:
> my other approach goes like this:

I couldn’t tell you which would be more efficient, you’d have to test
each and check it out. IMO the regex is easier to read for when you come
back to the code, but perhaps slightly more awkward to tweak for
unforeseen situations.

If you really, really wanted to make it zippy the thing to do would be
to produce a solution that avoids all the object creation associated
with going from primitives to Strings and back to primitives (not that
I’d really recommend this as a path to happiness ).

Basically, as with your approach you can test for ‘ ‘ and ‘;’ for
delimiting, but you could also try and reconstruct the numbers from the
character codes; search through a new token until you hit the decimal
point, each digit leftwards of that can be looked up and added to the
resulting float as a positive power of ten incremented by its distance
from the floating point (starting at 0), and on the right negative
powers of ten (starting at -1). That said, you may well get no
discernible speed increase this way – I wouldn’t consider trying it
unless you discover one of the solutions already offered doesn’t
function (remember Knuth’s rules of optimization :)

What would be much better is if the sending app, if you’re in any
position to change its behaviour, just sent a stream of floats
serialized as bytes, then reading them in would be dead quick.


Mar 10 2006 | 10:47 am

hi owen,
thanks for your comments.

> (remember Knuth’s rules of optimization :)
yeah, espescially if you don’t really know what you are doing and
your testing schemes are built on some voodoo magic, like mine… :)
> What would be much better is if the sending app, if you’re in any
> position to change its behaviour, just sent a stream of floats
> serialized as bytes, then reading them in would be dead quick.
while i’m not in the position to change this myself, i’m in contact
with the person who is.
but probably he’ll yell at me, cause that would mean more work for
him… still, definitely worth a try.
thanks for the input,

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