Книга: Practical Common Lisp

Hash Tables

Hash Tables

The other general-purpose collection provided by Common Lisp is the hash table. Where vectors provide an integer-indexed data structure, hash tables allow you to use arbitrary objects as the indexes, or keys. When you add a value to a hash table, you store it under a particular key. Later you can use the same key to retrieve the value. Or you can associate a new value with the same key—each key maps to a single value.

With no arguments MAKE-HASH-TABLE makes a hash table that considers two keys equivalent if they're the same object according to EQL. This is a good default unless you want to use strings as keys, since two strings with the same contents aren't necessarily EQL. In that case you'll want a so-called EQUAL hash table, which you can get by passing the symbol EQUAL as the :test keyword argument to MAKE-HASH-TABLE. Two other possible values for the :test argument are the symbols EQ and EQUALP. These are, of course, the names of the standard object comparison functions, which I discussed in Chapter 4. However, unlike the :test argument passed to sequence functions, MAKE-HASH-TABLE's :test can't be used to specify an arbitrary function—only the values EQ, EQL, EQUAL, and EQUALP. This is because hash tables actually need two functions, an equivalence function and a hash function that computes a numerical hash code from the key in a way compatible with how the equivalence function will ultimately compare two keys. However, although the language standard provides only for hash tables that use the standard equivalence functions, most implementations provide some mechanism for defining custom hash tables.

The GETHASH function provides access to the elements of a hash table. It takes two arguments—a key and the hash table—and returns the value, if any, stored in the hash table under that key or NIL.[129] For example:

(defparameter *h* (make-hash-table))
(gethash 'foo *h*) ==> NIL
(setf (gethash 'foo *h*) 'quux)
(gethash 'foo *h*) ==> QUUX

Since GETHASH returns NIL if the key isn't present in the table, there's no way to tell from the return value the difference between a key not being in a hash table at all and being in the table with the value NIL. GETHASH solves this problem with a feature I haven't discussed yet—multiple return values. GETHASH actually returns two values; the primary value is the value stored under the given key or NIL. The secondary value is a boolean indicating whether the key is present in the hash table. Because of the way multiple values work, the extra return value is silently discarded unless the caller explicitly handles it with a form that can "see" multiple values.

I'll discuss multiple return values in greater detail in Chapter 20, but for now I'll give you a sneak preview of how to use the MULTIPLE-VALUE-BIND macro to take advantage of GETHASH's extra return value. MULTIPLE-VALUE-BIND creates variable bindings like LET does, filling them with the multiple values returned by a form.

The following function shows how you might use MULTIPLE-VALUE-BIND; the variables it binds are value and present:

(defun show-value (key hash-table)
(multiple-value-bind (value present) (gethash key hash-table)
(if present
(format nil "Value ~a actually present." value)
(format nil "Value ~a because key not found." value))))
(setf (gethash 'bar *h*) nil) ; provide an explicit value of NIL
(show-value 'foo *h*) ==> "Value QUUX actually present."
(show-value 'bar *h*) ==> "Value NIL actually present."
(show-value 'baz *h*) ==> "Value NIL because key not found."

Since setting the value under a key to NIL leaves the key in the table, you'll need another function to completely remove a key/value pair. REMHASH takes the same arguments as GETHASH and removes the specified entry. You can also completely clear a hash table of all its key/value pairs with CLRHASH.

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