Calculating running average in Java

Posted on


I have a library which makes HTTP calls to my service. I was trying to calculate running average of how much time my service is taking on an average.

Here is the core logic of how I am calculating “running average”:

import java.math.BigDecimal;
import java.math.RoundingMode;
import java.util.LinkedList;
import java.util.Queue;

public class MovingAverage {

    private final Queue<BigDecimal> window = new LinkedList<BigDecimal>();
    private final int period;
    private BigDecimal sum = BigDecimal.ZERO;

    public MovingAverage(int period) {
        this.period = period;

    public void add(BigDecimal num) {
        sum = sum.add(num);
        if (window.size() > period) {
            sum = sum.subtract(window.remove());

    public BigDecimal getAverage() {
        if (window.isEmpty()) return BigDecimal.ZERO;
        BigDecimal divisor = BigDecimal.valueOf(window.size());
        return sum.divide(divisor, 2, RoundingMode.HALF_UP);

Is there any better/optimized way to do the same thing? I want to make sure this running average calculation is fast since this library runs under very heavy load so this should not increase the overall latency.


Your code looks nice and seems to do exactly what is supposed to be done. I can suggest only one performance related improvement: change LinkedList to ArrayDeque. Don’t let the prefix Array scare you: operations add() and remove() are implemented that way that they run in amortized contant time.

I have compared the performance of the both variants (LinkedList versus ArrayDeque):

MovingAverage (with LinkedList) in 1808.1 milliseconds.
MovingAverageV2 (with ArrayDeque) in 1480.6 milliseconds.

Plus, I have a minor comment. Since Java 7, you can write simply

new LinkedList<>();

instead of

new LinkedList<BigDecimal>();

The above syntax sugar is called diamond inference.

Hope that helps.

(PS: If you want to run the performance demonstration, you can find everything needed here.)

I created a ring buffer variant for this answer. It was loosely based upon this question and performs considerably better so it may be beneficial to others; note though that it has not been checked for equivalence (and it uses float instead of BigDecimal):

public class MovingAverage {

    private final float[] window;
    private float sum = 0f;
    private int fill;
    private int position;

    public MovingAverage(int size) {
        this.window=new float[size];

    public void add(float number) {



        if(position == window.length){


    public float getAverage() {
        return sum / fill;


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *