Definition: A collection of items that are randomly accessible by a key, often a string.
See also array.
Note: Implementation: the access method must essentially search for a match. The simplest, but slowest, implementation is to do a linear search over the array for a match.
If that is too slow, and you access the array by number, too, you must create and maintain an index into the array. The index is a dictionary, organized by the content, of indexes into the array.
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Entry modified 17 December 2004.
HTML page formatted Fri Mar 25 16:20:34 2011.
Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "associative array", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Paul E. Black, ed., U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. 17 December 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from: http://www.nist.gov/dads/HTML/assocarray.html