< Labeled Edges | JGraphT
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Labeled Edges

A common requirement for JGraphT applications is the need to associate a label with each edge. This can be accomplished efficiently via a custom edge class:

class RelationshipEdge
    extends DefaultEdge
    private String label;

     * Constructs a relationship edge
     * @param label the label of the new edge.
    public RelationshipEdge(String label)
        this.label = label;

     * Gets the label associated with this edge.
     * @return edge label
    public String getLabel()
        return label;

    public String toString()
        return "(" + getSource() + " : " + getTarget() + " : " + label + ")";

JGraphT’s default graph and edge implementations take care of maintaining the connectivity information between vertices, so the custom edge subclass only needs to store the label. Since the custom edge class does not override equals/hashCode, each edge object is distinct from every other edge object (regardless of whether they share the same label). Consequently, labels do not have to be unique within the same graph.

As defined above, RelationshipEdge could be used in either a directed or undirected graph. In the example below, we apply it to a a backstabby form of non-symmetric friendship via a directed graph:

        Graph<String, RelationshipEdge> graph = new DefaultDirectedGraph<>(RelationshipEdge.class);

        ArrayList<String> people = new ArrayList<String>();

        // John is everyone's friend
        for (String person : people) {
            if (!person.equals("John")) {
                graph.addEdge("John", person, new RelationshipEdge(FRIEND));

        // Apparently James doesn't really like John
        graph.addEdge("James", "John", new RelationshipEdge(ENEMY));

        // Jessica is Sarah and James's friend
        graph.addEdge("Jessica", "Sarah", new RelationshipEdge(FRIEND));
        graph.addEdge("Jessica", "James", new RelationshipEdge(FRIEND));

        // But Sarah doesn't really like James
        graph.addEdge("Sarah", "James", new RelationshipEdge(ENEMY));

Since the RelationshipEdge class does not have a default constructor, edges must be explicitly instantiated and added via addEdge(V,V,E) rather than implicitly instantiated via addEdge(V,V).

Once the graph has been populated, label information can be accessed during traversal:

        for (RelationshipEdge edge : graph.edgeSet()) {
            String v1 = graph.getEdgeSource(edge);
            String v2 = graph.getEdgeTarget(edge);
            if (edge.getLabel().equals("enemy")) {
                System.out.printf(v1 + " is an enemy of " + v2 + "\n");
            } else if (edge.getLabel().equals("friend")) {
                System.out.printf(v1 + " is a friend of " + v2 + "\n");

Given two vertices, an application can check the label on the edge between them by using getEdge(V,V):

    private static boolean isEnemyOf(
        Graph<String, RelationshipEdge> graph, String person1, String person2)
        return graph.getEdge(person1, person2).getLabel().equals(ENEMY);

You can find the complete source code for this example at LabeledEdge.java