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Minh Thai
Minh Thai

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Simple Hash Map with Scala in 15 minutes

Implementing a Hash Map is a good way to get familiar with a new language, let's see how it can be done quickly in Scala. This article assumes that you are familiar with the data structure. If not, Hacker Earth has a really nice article to get you started.

Now, for this implementation, there are a few things I want to achieve:

  • use chaining to resolve collisions
  • support 3 operations: add, remove, and get
  • immutability (all modifications return a new map instead of changing the existing one) (but why?)

With those requirements in mind, let's write a short outline:

case class Entry[K, V](key: K, value: V)

class HashMap[K, V] private (entries: Vector[Vector[Entry[K, V]]]) {

  def add(key: K, value: V): HashMap[K, V] = ???

  def remove(key: K): HashMap[K, V] = ???

  def get(key: K): Option[V] = ???
  • Class Entry represents a key-value pair
  • I use Vector to hold the keys. Each key contains another Vector that holds all the values. Hence we have Vector[Vector[Entry[K, V]]]
  • Since my hash map is immutable, add must return a new hash map. The original map is left untouched.
  • get returns an Option that contains the value of that key if it exists and None otherwise
  • ??? means throw new NotImplementedException(), which is quite convenient for writing code outline

Method add is quite straight forward:

def add(key: K, value: V): HashMap[K, V] = {
  val idx = indexFor(key)

  // if the table is empty, initialize and then run 'add' again
  if(entries.isEmpty) init.add(key, value)
  // otherwise, if 'key' exists, replace its old value
  // if not, associate 'value' with 'key'
  else {
    val chain = entries(idx)
    chain.indexWhere(_.key == key) match {
      case -1 => // key not found
        val e = Entry(key, value)
        new HashMap(entries.updated(idx, e +: chain))
      case i =>
        val replaced = chain(i).copy(value = value)
        new HashMap(entries.updated(idx, chain.updated(i, replaced)))

private val initialCapacity = 16

private def init: HashMap[K, V] = {
  new HashMap(Vector.fill(initialCapacity)(Vector.empty))

/** Returns the index of this key in the internal entry vector. */
private def indexFor(key: K): Int = {
  key.hashCode() & entries.length

remove is a bit tricky to write since we cannot do an 'in-place' removal (ahem, immutability ...). So we have to use filter:

def remove(key: K): HashMap[K, V] = {
  val idx = indexFor(key)
  val updated = entries.updated(idx, entries(idx).filter(_.key != key))
  new HashMap(updated)

However, this is not the most efficient way because filter will go through the whole collection instead of stopping once the unwanted element is seen. A more efficient approach to this case is to not remove anything at all but just 'mark' the element as removed. But I will not implement that here 😅

And lastly, we need to write out get method:

def get(key: K): Option[V] = {
  val idx = indexFor(key)
  entries(idx).find(_.key == key).map(_.value)

Method find of Vector already returns an Option if there is no element match with key so we don't need to manually handle that. Utility methods like find is the reason why I love Scala so much. It allows me to leave work early.


And that's it! We have completed our Hash Map implementation that satisfied the requirements we made at the beginning. You can use it like this:

val map = new HashMap[Int, String](Vector.empty)
val web = map.add(1, "web") // 1 -> "web"
val dev = web.add(2, "dev") // 1 -> "web", 2 -> "dev"


  • Array can be used for faster indexed access. Here, I use Vector to keep everything immutable.
  • This implementation uses a constant capacity (and it shouldn't). In practice, you should add some logic in method add to increase the capacity when needed. This is important to maintain performance.

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