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C# Case Insensitive Dictionary

Create a case-insensitive Dictionary with StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase.

Case, Dictionary.

A case-insensitive Dictionary is ideal in some programs. It helps with comparing file names in Windows, which ignore case.Dictionary

Notes, upper and lower.

Sometimes user names are case-insensitive—upper and lower letters are treated as equal. We implement a case-insensitive string Dictionary.

An example.

The Dictionary class has several overloaded constructors. Here we use one that accepts a parameter of type IEqualityComparer(string).

IEqualityComparer: This object implements an interface and is used by Dictionary to acquire hash codes and compare keys.

IEqualityComparer

New: We use a Dictionary constructor that accepts an IEqualityComparer. We specify StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase as the comparer.

Methods: StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase implements (at minimum) 2 methods, Equals and GetHashCode.

StringComparison, StringComparer

Info: These 2 methods are used internally by the Dictionary to compute hash keys and compare buckets.

C# program that uses case-insensitive Dictionary using System; using System.Collections.Generic; class Program { static void Main() { // Create case insensitive string Dictionary. var caseInsensitiveDictionary = new Dictionary<string, int>( StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase); caseInsensitiveDictionary.Add("Cat", 2); caseInsensitiveDictionary.Add("Python", 4); caseInsensitiveDictionary.Add("DOG", 6); // Write value of "cat". Console.WriteLine(caseInsensitiveDictionary["CAT"]); // 2 // Write value of "PYTHON". Console.WriteLine(caseInsensitiveDictionary["PYTHON"]); // 4 // See if "dog" exists. if (caseInsensitiveDictionary.ContainsKey("dog")) { Console.WriteLine("Contains dog."); // <-- Displayed } // Enumerate all KeyValuePairs. foreach (var pair in caseInsensitiveDictionary) { Console.WriteLine(pair.ToString()); } } } Output 2 4 Contains dog. [Cat, 2] [Python, 4] [DOG, 6]

Notes, usage.

You can add keys with either case using the Add method. The keys retain their original case internally in the Dictionary buckets.

And: When you enumerate the KeyValuePairs (in foreach), the original cases are retained.

Foreach

Caution: When you add the strings "Cat" and "CAT", you will get an exception. The Dictionary considers the 2 strings to be equivalent.

Note, ContainsKey.

ContainsKey (along with TryGetValue) will accept keys of either case. So "PYTHON" will return the same value as "Python".ContainsKeyTryGetValue

A discussion.

Another approach you can use to normalize string data in your Dictionary is always calling ToLower on the keys and before looking up keys.ToLower

File names: In Windows, file names are case-insensitive. But when users copy files, they expect them to retain their original case.

Thus: This Dictionary is ideal here. It will mimic the behavior of Windows NTFS filesystems.

A summary.

We implemented a case-insensitive string Dictionary. You do not need to write your own IEqualityComparer, although if your requirements are slightly unusual you can do so.
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