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Associative Arrays

Associative arrays have an index that is not necessarily an integer, and can be sparsely populated. The index for an associative array is called the key, and its type is called the KeyType.

Associative arrays are declared by placing the KeyType within the [ ] of an array declaration:

int[string] aa;   // Associative array of ints that are
                  // indexed by string keys.
                  // The KeyType is string.
aa["hello"] = 3;  // set value associated with key "hello" to 3
int value = aa["hello"];  // lookup value from a key
assert(value == 3);

Neither the KeyTypes nor the element types of an associative array can be function types or void.

Implementation Defined: The built-in associative arrays do not preserve the order of the keys inserted into the array. In particular, in a foreach loop the order in which the elements are iterated is typically unspecified.

Removing Keys

Particular keys in an associative array can be removed with the remove function:

aa.remove("hello");

remove(key) does nothing if the given key does not exist and returns false. If the given key does exist, it removes it from the AA and returns true.

All keys can be removed by using the method clear.

Testing Membership

The InExpression yields a pointer to the value if the key is in the associative array, or null if not:

int* p;

p = ("hello" in aa);
if (p !is null)
{
    *p = 4;  // update value associated with key
    assert(aa["hello"] == 4);
}

Undefined Behavior: Adjusting the pointer to point before or after the element whose address is returned, and then dereferencing it.

Using Classes as the KeyType

Classes can be used as the KeyType. For this to work, the class definition must override the following member functions of class Object:

Note that the parameter to opEquals is of type Object, not the type of the class in which it is defined.

For example:

class Foo
{
    int a, b;

    override size_t toHash() { return a + b; }

    override bool opEquals(Object o)
    {
        Foo foo = cast(Foo) o;
        return foo && a == foo.a && b == foo.b;
    }
}

Implementation Defined: opCmp is not used to check for equality by the associative array. However, since the actual opEquals or opCmp called is not decided until runtime, the compiler cannot always detect mismatched functions. Because of legacy issues, the compiler may reject an associative array key type that overrides opCmp but not opEquals. This restriction may be removed in future versions.

Undefined Behavior:

  1. If toHash must consistently be the same value when opEquals returns true. In other words, two objects that are considered equal should always have the same hash value. Otherwise, undefined behavior will result.

Best Practices:

  1. Use the attributes @safe, @nogc, pure, const, and scope as much as possible on the toHash and opEquals overrides.

Using Structs or Unions as the KeyType

If the KeyType is a struct or union type, a default mechanism is used to compute the hash and comparisons of it based on the binary data within the struct value. A custom mechanism can be used by providing the following functions as struct members:

size_t toHash() const @safe pure nothrow;
bool opEquals(ref const typeof(this) s) const @safe pure nothrow;

For example:

import std.string;

struct MyString
{
    string str;

    size_t toHash() const @safe pure nothrow
    {
        size_t hash;
        foreach (char c; str)
            hash = (hash * 9) + c;
        return hash;
    }

    bool opEquals(ref const MyString s) const @safe pure nothrow
    {
        return std.string.cmp(this.str, s.str) == 0;
    }
}

The functions can use @trusted instead of @safe.

Implementation Defined: opCmp is not used to check for equality by the associative array. For this reason, and for legacy reasons, an associative array key is not allowed to define a specialized opCmp, but omit a specialized opEquals. This restriction may be removed in future versions of D.

Undefined Behavior:

  1. If toHash must consistently be the same value when opEquals returns true. In other words, two structs that are considered equal should always have the same hash value. Otherwise, undefined behavior will result.

Best Practices:

  1. Use the attributes @nogc as much as possible on the toHash and opEquals overrides.

Construction or Assignment on Setting AA Entries

When an AA indexing access appears on the left side of an assignment operator, it is specially handled for setting an AA entry associated with the key.

string[int] aa;
string s;
s = aa[1];          // throws RangeError in runtime
aa[1] = "hello";    // handled for setting AA entry
s = aa[1];          // succeeds to lookup
assert(s == "hello");

If the assigned value type is equivalent with the AA element type:

  1. If the indexing key does not yet exist in AA, a new AA entry will be allocated, and it will be initialized with the assigned value.
  2. If the indexing key already exists in the AA, the setting runs normal assignment.
struct S
{
    int val;
    void opAssign(S rhs) { this.val = rhs.val * 2; }
}
S[int] aa;
aa[1] = S(10);  // first setting initializes the entry aa[1]
assert(aa[1].val == 10);
aa[1] = S(10);  // second setting invokes normal assignment, and
                // operator-overloading rewrites it to member opAssign function.
assert(aa[1].val == 20);

If the assigned value type is not equivalent with the AA element type, the expression could invoke operator overloading with normal indexing access:

struct S
{
    int val;
    void opAssign(int v) { this.val = v * 2; }
}
S[int] aa;
aa[1] = 10;     // is rewritten to: aa[1].opAssign(10), and
                // throws RangeError before opAssign is called

However, if the AA element type is a struct which supports an implicit constructor call from the assigned value, implicit construction is used for setting the AA entry:

struct S
{
    int val;
    this(int v) { this.val = v; }
    void opAssign(int v) { this.val = v * 2; }
}
S s = 1;    // OK, rewritten to: S s = S(1);
  s = 1;    // OK, rewritten to: s.opAssign(1);

S[int] aa;
aa[1] = 10; // first setting is rewritten to: aa[1] = S(10);
assert(aa[1].val == 10);
aa[1] = 10; // second setting is rewritten to: aa[1].opAssign(10);
assert(aa[1].val == 20);
This is designed for efficient memory reuse with some value-semantics structs, eg. std.bigint.BigInt.
import std.bigint;
BigInt[string] aa;
aa["a"] = 10;   // construct BigInt(10) and move it in AA
aa["a"] = 20;   // call aa["a"].opAssign(20)

Static Initialization of AAs

immutable long[string] aa = [
  "foo": 5,
  "bar": 10,
  "baz": 2000
];

unittest
{
    assert(aa["foo"] == 5);
    assert(aa["bar"] == 10);
    assert(aa["baz"] == 2000);
}

Runtime Initialization of Immutable AAs

Immutable associative arrays are often desirable, but sometimes initialization must be done at runtime. This can be achieved with a constructor (static constructor depending on scope), a buffer associative array and assumeUnique:

immutable long[string] aa;

static this()
{
    import std.exception : assumeUnique;
    import std.conv : to;

    long[string] temp; // mutable buffer
    foreach(i; 0 .. 10)
    {
        temp[to!string(i)] = i;
    }
    temp.rehash; // for faster lookups

    aa = assumeUnique(temp);
}

unittest
{
    assert(aa["1"] == 1);
    assert(aa["5"] == 5);
    assert(aa["9"] == 9);
}

Construction and Reference Semantics

An Associative Array defaults to null, and is constructed upon assigning the first key/value pair. However, once constructed, an associative array has reference semantics, meaning that assigning one array to another does not copy the data. This is especially important when attempting to create multiple references to the same array.

int[int] aa;             // defaults to null
int[int] aa2 = aa;       // copies the null reference
aa[1] = 1;
assert(aa2.length == 0); // aa2 still is null
aa2 = aa;
aa2[2] = 2;
assert(aa[2] == 2);      // now both refer to the same instance

Properties

Properties for associative arrays are:

Associative Array Properties
PropertyDescription
.sizeofReturns the size of the reference to the associative array; it is 4 in 32-bit builds and 8 on 64-bit builds.
.lengthReturns number of values in the associative array. Unlike for dynamic arrays, it is read-only.
.dupCreate a new associative array of the same size and copy the contents of the associative array into it.
.keysReturns dynamic array, the elements of which are the keys in the associative array.
.valuesReturns dynamic array, the elements of which are the values in the associative array.
.rehashReorganizes the associative array in place so that lookups are more efficient. rehash is effective when, for example, the program is done loading up a symbol table and now needs fast lookups in it. Returns a reference to the reorganized array.
.clearRemoves all remaining keys and values from an associative array. The array is not rehashed after removal, to allow for the existing storage to be reused. This will affect all references to the same instance and is not equivalent to destroy(aa) which only sets the current reference to null
.byKey()Returns a forward range suitable for use as a ForeachAggregate to a ForeachStatement which will iterate over the keys of the associative array.
.byValue()Returns a forward range suitable for use as a ForeachAggregate to a ForeachStatement which will iterate over the values of the associative array.
.byKeyValue()Returns a forward range suitable for use as a ForeachAggregate to a ForeachStatement which will iterate over key-value pairs of the associative array. The returned pairs are represented by an opaque type with .key and .value properties for accessing the key and value of the pair, respectively. Note that this is a low-level interface to iterating over the associative array and is not compatible with the Tuple type in Phobos. For compatibility with Tuple, use std.array.byPair instead.
.get(Key key, lazy Value defVal) Looks up key; if it exists returns corresponding value else evaluates and returns defVal.

Associative Array Example: word count

Let's consider the file is ASCII encoded with LF EOL. In general case we should use dchar c for iteration over code points and functions from std.uni.

import std.file;         // D file I/O
import std.stdio;
import std.ascii;

void main (string[] args)
{
    ulong totalWords, totalLines, totalChars;
    ulong[string] dictionary;

    writeln("   lines   words   bytes file");
    foreach (arg; args[1 .. $]) // for each argument except the first one
    {
        ulong wordCount, lineCount, charCount;

        foreach(line; File(arg).byLine())
        {
            bool inWord;
            size_t wordStart;

            void tryFinishWord(size_t wordEnd)
            {
                if (inWord)
                {
                    auto word = line[wordStart .. wordEnd];
                    ++dictionary[word.idup];   // increment count for word
                    inWord = false;
                }
            }

            foreach (i, char c; line)
            {
                if (std.ascii.isDigit(c))
                {
                    // c is a digit (0..9)
                }
                else if (std.ascii.isAlpha(c))
                {
                    // c is an ASCII letter (A..Z, a..z)
                    if (!inWord)
                    {
                        wordStart = i;
                        inWord = true;
                        ++wordCount;
                    }
                }
                else
                    tryFinishWord(i);
                ++charCount;
            }
            tryFinishWord(line.length);
            ++lineCount;
        }

        writefln("%8s%8s%8s %s", lineCount, wordCount, charCount, arg);
        totalWords += wordCount;
        totalLines += lineCount;
        totalChars += charCount;
    }

    if (args.length > 2)
    {
        writefln("-------------------------------------\n%8s%8s%8s total",
                 totalLines, totalWords, totalChars);
    }

    writeln("-------------------------------------");
    foreach (word; dictionary.keys.sort)
    {
        writefln("%3s %s", dictionary[word], word);
    }
}

Associative Array Example: counting Tuples

An Associative Array can be iterated in key/value fashion using a foreach statement. As an example, the number of occurrences of all possible substrings of length 2 (aka 2-mers) in a string will be counted:

import std.range : dropOne, only, save, zip;
import std.stdio : writefln;
import std.typecons : Tuple;
import std.utf : byCodeUnit; // avoids UTF-8 auto-decoding

int[Tuple!(immutable char, immutable char)] aa;

// The string `arr` has a limited alphabet: {A, C, G, T}
// Thus, for better performance, iteration can be done _without_ decoding
auto arr = "AGATAGA".byCodeUnit;

// iterate over all pairs in the string and observe each pair
// ('A', 'G'), ('G', 'A'), ('A', 'T'), ...
foreach (window; arr.zip(arr.save.dropOne))
    aa[window]++;

// iterate over all key/value pairs of the Associative Array
foreach (key, value; aa)
{
    // the second parameter uses tuple-expansion
    writefln("key: %s [%s], value: %d", key, key.expand.only, value);
}
% rdmd count.d
key: Tuple!(immutable(char), immutable(char))('A', 'G') [AG], value: 2
key: Tuple!(immutable(char), immutable(char))('G', 'A') [GA], value: 2
key: Tuple!(immutable(char), immutable(char))('A', 'T') [AT], value: 1
key: Tuple!(immutable(char), immutable(char))('T', 'A') [TA], value: 1
Arrays
Structs and Unions