IEqualityComparerUse a custom IEqualityComparer to implement specialized lookup behavior for Dictionary.
This page was last reviewed on Jan 10, 2024.
IEqualityComparer. This C# interface requires Equals and GetHashCode methods. It can be used to implement fuzzy key matching—this can lead to cleaner code as strings can be looked up directly.
Though IEqualityComparer can be used to add hashing functionality for any object, we focus on strings. We use it with the Dictionary type. Existing code that uses Dictionary can be left unchanged.
Dictionary Case-Insensitive
Example. A Dictionary by default uses exact lookups. It computes a hash code based on a key and if another value matches it exactly, the two keys match. But this can be changed.
Next We implement a custom, fuzzy lookup that ignores characters. This is the custom IEqualityComparer.
Tip It computes hashes (in GetHashCode) and compares keys (in Equals) ignoring all hyphen characters.
So The string "cat-1" is considered equal to the string "cat1." The hyphen (dash) character is simply ignored.
Finally The Main method shows how hyphens are ignored in the keys of a Dictionary that uses this comparer.
Main args
using System; using System.Collections.Generic; class CustomComparer : IEqualityComparer<string> { public bool Equals(string x, string y) { int xPos = 0; int yPos = 0; while (true) { // ... Fail if past end. if (xPos >= x.Length) { return false; } if (yPos >= y.Length) { return false; } // ... Skip past hyphens. if (x[xPos] == '-') { xPos++; continue; } if (y[yPos] == '-') { yPos++; continue; } // ... Fail if different. if (x[xPos] != y[yPos]) { return false; } // ... If we have traversed both strings with no error, we match. if (xPos == x.Length - 1 && yPos == y.Length - 1) { return true; } // ... Increment both places. xPos++; yPos++; } } public int GetHashCode(string obj) { int code = 0; // ... Add together all chars. for (int i = 0; i < obj.Length; i++) { if (obj[i] != '-') { code += obj[i]; } } return code; } } class Program { static void Main() { // ... Add data to dictionary. var dictionary = new Dictionary<string, int>(new CustomComparer()); dictionary["cat-1"] = 1; dictionary["cat-2"] = 2; dictionary["dog-bark"] = 10; dictionary["dog-woof"] = 20; // ... Lookup values, ignoring hyphens. Console.WriteLine(dictionary["cat1"]); Console.WriteLine(dictionary["cat-1"]); Console.WriteLine(dictionary["dog--bark"]); } }
1 1 10
Discussion. Probably the best reason to use IEqualityComparer is when we went to treat different keys as though they are equal. In the example, we ignore hyphens in keys, so they can be omitted.
And This can reduce allocations because we require fewer string keys. We can just look up existing keys rather than creating new strings.
Finally Fuzzy matching of strings can make programs easier to use. IEqualityComparer is a helpful interface for this reason.
Summary. With IEqualityComparer, we look up strings based on the results of a method. We can apply fuzzy matching, or any other transformation before comparing keys.
Dot Net Perls is a collection of tested code examples. Pages are continually updated to stay current, with code correctness a top priority.
Sam Allen is passionate about computer languages. In the past, his work has been recommended by Apple and Microsoft and he has studied computers at a selective university in the United States.
This page was last updated on Jan 10, 2024 (rewrite).
© 2007-2024 Sam Allen.