Functional Maps

As we've now seen, hash tables are an efficient data structure for implementing a map ADT. They offer amortized, expected constant-time performance—which is a subtle guarantee because of those "amortized" and "expected" qualifiers we have to add. Hash tables also require mutability to implement. As functional programmers, we prefer to avoid mutability when possible.

So, let's investigate how to implement functional maps. One of the best data structures for that is the red-black tree, which is a kind of balanced binary search tree that offers worst-case logarithmic performance. So on one hand the performance is somewhat worse than hash tables (logarithmic vs. constant), but on the other hand we don't have to qualify the performance with words like "amortized" and "expected". Logarithmic is actually still plenty efficient for even very large workloads. And, we get to avoid mutability!

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