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Where do we use BitSet and why do we use it in java?

I just found out that there is BitSet in java. There are already arrays and similar data structures. Where can BitSet be used?

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Answer

As the above answer only explains what a BitSet is, I am providing here an answer of how I use BitSet and why. At first, I did not knew that the BitSet construct exists. I have a QR Code generator in C++ and for flexible reasons I don’t want to use a specific Bitmap structures in returning this QR Code back to the caller. The QR Code is just black and white and can be represented as a series of bits. The problem was that in the JNI C++, I have to return the byte array that represents these series of bits and then I have to return the count of bits. Note that the size of the bytes array alone could not tell the count of bits. In effect, I am face with a scenario wherein my JNI C++ has to return two values:

  • the byte[] array
  • the count of bits

My first solution, was to return an array of boolean. The content of this array are the QR Code pixels, and the square root of the length of the array is the length of the side. Of course this worked but I felt wasted because it is supposed to be a series of bits. My next attempt was to return Pair<int, byte[]> object which, after lots of hair pulling i am not able to make it work in C++. Here comes the BitSet(145) construct. By returning this BitSet object, I am conveying two types of information i listed above. But there is minor trick. If QR Code pixel has total 144 pixels, because one side is 12, then you have to allocate BitSet(145) and do obj.set(144). That is, we introduce an artificial last bit that we then set, but this last bit is not part of the QR Code pixels. This ensures that, BitSet::length() correctly returns the bit count. So in Kotlin:

var pixels:BitSet = getqrpixels(inputdata)
var pixels_len = pixels.length() - 1
var side = sqrt(pixels_len.toFloat()).toInt()
drawSquareBitmap(pixels, side)

And thus, is my unexpected use case of this mysterious BitSet.

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