This is some Java code I wrote for a school project to save some time when iterating in random order over a part of list (until some condition becomes true):

import java.util.List;

import java.util.Iterator;
* Provides a random iteration over the given list.
* This effect can be achieved by using Collections.shuffle,
* which shuffles the entire collection in linear time.
* If the iteration process may end before all items
* are processed, this class may give a speed increase
* because the shuffling process is performed as items are requested
* rather than in the beginning.
public class RandomIterator<E> implements Iterator<E>{

* Mapping indicating which items were served (by index).
* if served[i] then the item with index i in the list
* has already been served.
* Note it is possible to save memory here by using
* BitSet rather than a boolean array, however it will
* increase the running time slightly.
private final boolean[] served;

/** The amount of items served so far */
private int servedCount = 0;

private final List<E> list;
private final int LIST_SIZE;

* The random number generator has a great influence
* on the running time of this iterator.
* See, for instance,
* for some implementations, which are faster than java.util.Random.
private final Random rand;

/** Used to nar-row the range to take random indexes from */
private int lower,upper;

public RandomIterator(List<E> list, Random rand){
this.list = list;
this.rand = rand;
LIST_SIZE = list.size();
served = new boolean[LIST_SIZE];
lower = 0;
upper = LIST_SIZE-1;

public boolean hasNext() {
return servedCount < LIST_SIZE;

private int index,range;

public E next() {

range =  upper – lower + 1;

index = lower + rand.nextInt(range);
} while(served[index]);

// check if the range from which random values
// are taken can be reduced
if(index == lower)
else if(index == upper)

served[index] = true;

return list.get(index);

public void remove() {
throw new UnsupportedOperationException();

Here is a sample on how to use the code:

for(Iterator<Object> iter = new RandomIterator<Object>(myObjList); iter.hasNext();){

Object o =;

if(someCondition(o) )

return o; // iteration stopped early

I wrote it to replace a Collection.shuffle call and this code gave us an overall increase in program execution speed of about 25%.

As the javadoc description says, you are better off calling Collection.shuffle if you need to iterate over the entire list. But if you may stop early this class can save you some time, as it did in our case.