Hashtable Class

Represents a collection of key/value pairs that are organized based on the hash code of the key.

Namespace: System.Collections
Assembly: mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

public class Hashtable : IDictionary, ICollection, IEnumerable, 
	ISerializable, IDeserializationCallback, ICloneable
/** @attribute SerializableAttribute() */ 
/** @attribute ComVisibleAttribute(true) */ 
public class Hashtable implements IDictionary, ICollection, 
	IEnumerable, ISerializable, IDeserializationCallback, ICloneable
public class Hashtable implements IDictionary, ICollection, 
	IEnumerable, ISerializable, IDeserializationCallback, ICloneable
Not applicable.

Each element is a key/value pair stored in a DictionaryEntry object. A key cannot be a null reference (Nothing in Visual Basic), but a value can be.

The objects used as keys by a Hashtable are required to override the Object.GetHashCode method (or the IHashCodeProvider interface) and the Object.Equals method (or the IComparer interface). The implementation of both methods and interfaces must handle case sensitivity the same way; otherwise, the Hashtable might behave incorrectly. For example, when creating a Hashtable, you must use the CaseInsensitiveHashCodeProvider class (or any case-insensitive IHashCodeProvider implementation) with the CaseInsensitiveComparer class (or any case-insensitive IComparer implementation).

Furthermore, these methods must produce the same results when called with the same parameters while the key exists in the Hashtable. An alternative is to use a Hashtable constructor with an IEqualityComparer parameter. If key equality were simply reference equality, the inherited implementation of Object.GetHashCode and Object.Equals would suffice.

Key objects must be immutable as long as they are used as keys in the Hashtable.

When an element is added to the Hashtable, the element is placed into a bucket based on the hash code of the key. Subsequent lookups of the key use the hash code of the key to search in only one particular bucket, thus substantially reducing the number of key comparisons required to find an element.

The load factor of a Hashtable determines the maximum ratio of elements to buckets. Smaller load factors cause faster average lookup times at the cost of increased memory consumption. The default load factor of 1.0 generally provides the best balance between speed and size. A different load factor can also be specified when the Hashtable is created.

As elements are added to a Hashtable, the actual load factor of the Hashtable increases. When the actual load factor reaches the specified load factor, the number of buckets in the Hashtable is automatically increased to the smallest prime number that is larger than twice the current number of Hashtable buckets.

Each key object in the Hashtable must provide its own hash function, which can be accessed by calling GetHash. However, any object implementing IHashCodeProvider can be passed to a Hashtable constructor, and that hash function is used for all objects in the table.

The capacity of a Hashtable is the number of elements the Hashtable can hold. As elements are added to a Hashtable, the capacity is automatically increased as required through reallocation.

The foreach statement of the C# language (for each in Visual Basic) requires the type of each element in the collection. Since each element of the Hashtable is a key/value pair, the element type is not the type of the key or the type of the value. Instead, the element type is DictionaryEntry. For example:

foreach (DictionaryEntry de in myHashtable) {...}

The foreach statement is a wrapper around the enumerator, which only allows reading from, not writing to, the collection.

Because serializing and deserializing an enumerator for a Hashtable can cause the elements to become reordered, it is not possible to continue enumeration without calling the Reset method.


Because keys can be inherited and their behavior changed, their absolute uniqueness cannot be guaranteed by comparisons using the Equals method.

The following example shows how to create, initialize and perform various functions to a Hashtable and how to print out its keys and values.

using System;
using System.Collections;

class Example
    public static void Main()
        // Create a new hash table.
        Hashtable openWith = new Hashtable();
        // Add some elements to the hash table. There are no 
        // duplicate keys, but some of the values are duplicates.
        openWith.Add("txt", "notepad.exe");
        openWith.Add("bmp", "paint.exe");
        openWith.Add("dib", "paint.exe");
        openWith.Add("rtf", "wordpad.exe");
        // The Add method throws an exception if the new key is 
        // already in the hash table.
            openWith.Add("txt", "winword.exe");
            Console.WriteLine("An element with Key = \"txt\" already exists.");

        // The Item property is the default property, so you 
        // can omit its name when accessing elements. 
        Console.WriteLine("For key = \"rtf\", value = {0}.", openWith["rtf"]);
        // The default Item property can be used to change the value
        // associated with a key.
        openWith["rtf"] = "winword.exe";
        Console.WriteLine("For key = \"rtf\", value = {0}.", openWith["rtf"]);
        // If a key does not exist, setting the default Item property
        // for that key adds a new key/value pair.
        openWith["doc"] = "winword.exe";

        // ContainsKey can be used to test keys before inserting 
        // them.
        if (!openWith.ContainsKey("ht"))
            openWith.Add("ht", "hypertrm.exe");
            Console.WriteLine("Value added for key = \"ht\": {0}", openWith["ht"]);

        // When you use foreach to enumerate hash table elements,
        // the elements are retrieved as KeyValuePair objects.
        foreach( DictionaryEntry de in openWith )
            Console.WriteLine("Key = {0}, Value = {1}", de.Key, de.Value);

        // To get the values alone, use the Values property.
        ICollection valueColl = openWith.Values;
        // The elements of the ValueCollection are strongly typed
        // with the type that was specified for hash table values.
        foreach( string s in valueColl )
            Console.WriteLine("Value = {0}", s);

        // To get the keys alone, use the Keys property.
        ICollection keyColl = openWith.Keys;
        // The elements of the KeyCollection are strongly typed
        // with the type that was specified for hash table keys.
        foreach( string s in keyColl )
            Console.WriteLine("Key = {0}", s);

        // Use the Remove method to remove a key/value pair.
        if (!openWith.ContainsKey("doc"))
            Console.WriteLine("Key \"doc\" is not found.");

/* This code example produces the following output:

An element with Key = "txt" already exists.
For key = "rtf", value = wordpad.exe.
For key = "rtf", value = winword.exe.
Value added for key = "ht": hypertrm.exe

Key = dib, Value = paint.exe
Key = txt, Value = notepad.exe
Key = ht, Value = hypertrm.exe
Key = bmp, Value = paint.exe
Key = rtf, Value = winword.exe
Key = doc, Value = winword.exe

Value = paint.exe
Value = notepad.exe
Value = hypertrm.exe
Value = paint.exe
Value = winword.exe
Value = winword.exe

Key = dib
Key = txt
Key = ht
Key = bmp
Key = rtf
Key = doc

Key "doc" is not found.

Hashtable is thread safe for use by multiple reader threads and a single writing thread. It is thread safe for multi-thread use when only one of the threads perform write (update) operations, which allows for lock-free reads provided that the writers are serialized to the Hashtable. To support multiple writers all operations on the Hashtable must be done through the wrapper returned by the Synchronized method, provided that there are no threads reading the Hashtable object.

Enumerating through a collection is intrinsically not a thread safe procedure. Even when a collection is synchronized, other threads can still modify the collection, which causes the enumerator to throw an exception. To guarantee thread safety during enumeration, you can either lock the collection during the entire enumeration or catch the exceptions resulting from changes made by other threads.

Windows 98, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows CE, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Starter Edition

The Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 is supported on Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP SP2, and Windows Server 2003 SP1.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 2.0, 1.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 1.0