The two data structures, std::map
and std::unordered_map
, are offered by the C++ standard library to store key-value pairs. The main difference between them is in the way the keys are stored and accessed. Let’s detail these differences:
std::map
: Keeps the keys ordered, O(log n) operations, binary search tree.std::unordered\_map
: Does not maintain order, O(1) operations on average, hash table.std::map
std::map
are stored in ascending order, based on a comparison criterion (by default, operator<
). This means that the structure maintains a balanced binary search tree (usually a Red-Black tree) internally.std::map
is done in ascending order of the keys.std::unordered_map
std::unordered_map
are not stored in any specific order. Internally, it uses a hash table. * Search, Insert, and Delete Complexity: On average, these operations have O(1) complexity (constant time), provided that the hash function is efficient and the table is not too full. In the worst case, the complexity can be O(n) if there are many collisions.std::unordered_map
tends to be faster than std::map
for most cases, especially when it comes to search, insertion, and deletion operations. This is due to the following reasons:
std::unordered_map
: On average, search, insertion, and deletion operations have O(1) complexity, provided that the hash table is well-sized and the hash function is efficient. This means that the execution time of these operations is constant in most cases.std::map
: The same operations have O(log n) complexity due to the balanced binary search tree structure. Therefore, the execution time increases logarithmically with the number of elements.
std::unordered_map
: Does not need to keep the keys in order, which eliminates the overhead associated with maintaining the ordered structure.std::map
: Needs to keep the keys in order, which adds additional overhead compared to std::unordered_map
.For example, if you are developing a programming language with C++, std::unordered_map
tends to be the more advantageous choice due to its efficiency in access operations.
std::map
be more advantageous?Although std::unordered_map
is generally faster, there are cases where std::map
may be preferable:
Need for Ordering: When it is necessary to iterate over the elements in a specific order (ascending key order), std::map
is the correct choice.
Inefficient Hash Functions: If the hash function is not efficient, there may be many collisions, which degrades performance to O(n) in the worst case. In this case, std::map
may be more stable.
In summary, std::unordered_map
is generally faster for access, insertion, and removal, but std::map
is more appropriate when ordering of the elements is required or in situations where performance stability is crucial.