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Java Fundamental Classes Reference

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The java.util Package
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Hashtable

Name

Hashtable

Synopsis

Class Name:

java.util.Hashtable

Superclass:

java.util.Dictionary

Immediate Subclasses:

java.util.Properties

Interfaces Implemented:

java.lang.Cloneable, java.io.Serializable

Availability:

JDK 1.0 or later

Description

The Hashtable class is a concrete subclass of Dictionary that builds a table of key/value pairs. Any non-null object can be used as a key or as a value. The objects used as keys must implement the equals() and hashCode() methods in a way that computes comparisons and hashcodes from the contents of an object. Once the table is built, a value can be efficiently retrieved by supplying its associated key.

Hashtable is an excellent example of how a well-written class can hide an arcane algorithm. The casual user simply instantiates a Hashtable and uses put() and get() to add and retrieve key and value pairs. However, when performance is an issue, you need to be aware of the considerations discussed in the following paragraphs.

Internally, a Hashtable keeps an array of key/value pairs. When a new key/value pair is added to a Hashtable, it is added to the array at an index that is calculated from the hashcode of the key. If a key/value pair already exists at this index, the new pair is linked to the existing key and value. Thus, a Hashtable has an overall structure of an array of linked lists.

For a given key, the retrieval of the matching value from a Hashtable is quite fast. The Hashtable computes the hashcode of the key and uses it as an index into the array. Then it only needs to search the linked list of key/value pairs at that index to find a match for the given key. If the array is short, but the Hashtable contains many key/value pairs, however, the linked lists will be lengthy, which adversely affects performance.

A Hashtable has a capacity, which is the length of its array, and a load factor, which determines when rehashing is performed. The load factor is a number between 0 and 1. If the number of key/value pairs added to the Hashtable exceeds the capacity multiplied by the load factor, the capacity of the Hashtable is increased and the key/value pairs are rehashed into the new array. Obviously, this is an undesirable performance hit, so if you know approximately how many items you will add to a Hashtable, you should create one with an appropriate initial capacity.

Class Summary

public class java.util.Hashtable extends java.util.Dictionary
             implements java.lang.Cloneable, java.io.Serializable {
  // Constructors
  public Hashtable();
  public Hashtable(int initialCapacity);
  public Hashtable(int initialCapacity, float loadFactor);
  // Instance Methods
  public synchronized void clear();
  public synchronized Object clone();
  public synchronized boolean contains(Object value);
  public synchronized boolean containsKey(Object key);
  public synchronized Enumeration elements();
  public synchronized Object get(Object key); 
  public boolean isEmpty();
  public synchronized Enumeration keys();
  public synchronized Object put(Object key, Object value);
  public synchronized Object remove(Object key); 
  public int size();
  public synchronized String toString();
  // Protected Instance Methods
  protected void rehash();
}

Constructors

Hashtable

public Hashtable()

Description

This constructor creates a Hashtable with a default capacity of 101 and a default load factor of .75.

public Hashtable(int initialCapacity)

Parameters

initialCapacity

The initial capacity.

Throws

IllegalArgumentException

If initialCapacity is less than or equal to zero.

Description

This constructor creates a Hashtable with the given capacity and a default load factor of .75.

public Hashtable(int initialCapacity, float loadFactor)

Parameters

initialCapacity

The initial capacity.

loadFactor

The load factor.

Throws

IllegalArgumentException

If initialCapacity or loadFactor is less than or equal to zero.

Description

This constructor creates a Hashtable with the given capacity and load factor.

Instance Methods

clear

public synchronized void clear()

Description

This method removes all of the key/value pairs from this Hashtable.

clone

public synchronized Object clone()

Returns

A copy of this Hashtable.

Overrides

Object.clone()

Description

This method returns a shallow copy of this Hashtable. This means that the internal array of the Hashtable is copied, but the keys and values themselves are not copied.

contains

public synchronized boolean contains(Object value)

Parameters

value

The value to find.

Returns

true if this Hashtable contains the given value; false otherwise.

Throws

NullPointerException

If the given value is null.

Description

This method returns true if the given value is contained in this Hashtable object. The entire table is searched, which can be a time-consuming operation.

containsKey

public synchronized boolean containsKey(Object key)

Parameters

key

The key to find.

Returns

true if this Hashtable contains the given value; false otherwise.

Description

This method returns true if the given key is contained in this Hashtable object. Because the key is hashed to perform the search, this method runs quite fast, especially in comparison to contains().

elements

public synchronized Enumeration elements()

Returns

The values in this Hashtable as an Enumeration.

Overrides

Dictionary.elements()

Description

This method returns an Enumeration that iterates through the values in this Hashtable.

get

public synchronized Object get(Object key)

Parameters

key

The key of the value to retrieve.

Returns

The value that corresponds to this key or null if the key is not associated with any value.

Overrides

Dictionary.get()

Description

This method returns the value that is associated with the given key.

isEmpty

public boolean isEmpty()

Returns

true if there are no values in the Hashtable; false otherwise.

Overrides

Dictionary.isEmpty()

Description

This method returns a boolean value that indicates whether or not the Hashtable is empty.

keys

public synchronized Enumeration keys()

Returns

The keys in the Hashtable as an Enumeration.

Overrides

Dictionary.keys()

Description

This method returns an Enumeration that iterates through the keys in this Hashtable.

put

public synchronized Object put(Object key, Object value)

Parameters

key

A key object.

value

A value object.

Returns

The previous value associated with the given key or null if key has not previously been associated with a value.

Throws

NullPointerException

If either the key or the value is null.

Overrides

Dictionary.put()

Description

This method associates the given key with the given value in this Hashtable.

remove

public synchronized Object remove(Object key)

Parameters

key

A key of the value to remove.

Returns

The value associated with the given key, or null if key is not associated with a value.

Overrides

Dictionary.remove()

Description

This method removes a key/value pair from this Hashtable. If the given key is not in the Hashtable, the method does nothing.

size

public int size()

Returns

The number of key in the Hashtable.

Overrides

Dictionary.size()

Description

This method returns the number of key/value pairs in the Hashtable.

toString

public String toString()

Returns

A string that represents this Hashtable.

Overrides

Object.toString()

Description

This method returns a string representation of this Hashtable. The string includes every key/value pair that is contained in the Hashtable, so the string returned by toString() can be quite long.

Protected Instance Methods

rehash

protected void rehash()

Description

This method increases the capacity of this Hashtable. A larger internal array is created and all existing key/value pairs are rehashed into the new array.

Inherited Methods

Method

Inherited From

Method

Inherited From

equals(Object)

Object

finalize()

Object

getClass()

Object

hashCode()

Object

notify()

Object

notifyAll()

Object

wait()

Object

wait(long)

Object

wait(long, int)

Object

   

See Also

Cloneable, Dictionary, Enumeration, IllegalArgumentException, NullPointerException, Properties, Serializable


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