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| Brooklyn College Library & Academic IT |CISC Department

CISC 3130 Data Structures: Associative Arrays

Professor Chuang Spring 2020 OER


Definition: abstract data type storing items, or values. A value is accessed by an associated key. Basic operations are new, insert, find and delete.


Black, Paul E. (2019-10-1). Pieterse, Vreda; Black, Paul E. (eds.). "dictionary". Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures. National Institute of Standards and Technology. Retrieved from: 



Associative arrays are based on a key and value pair. You use the key to look up the value.

An example use case is a symbol table, such as typing :+1: in your messages to get a thumbs up emoji or entering a key code combination into a vending machine to retrieving an item.

Key value pairs by @katychuang

Hashing is the underlying technology that the machine uses to translate the key into physical memory locations under the hood.

hashing function by @katychuang

Java Implementation

Using Java Collections Framework's HashMap class

import java.util.HashMap; // import the HashMap class
HashMap sample = new HashMap();