IEqualityComparerImplement the IEqualityComparer to implement fuzzy string matching by ignoring certain Chars.
This page was last reviewed on Jan 10, 2024.
IEqualityComparer. When we create a Dictionary with String keys in VB.NET, we must have exact matches to find a key. This behavior can be changed with IEqualityComparer.
With some logic in custom Equals and GetHashCode functions, we can ignore certain characters in keys. In this way, we can ignore all characters of a certain type, like digits, in keys.
Dictionary Case-Insensitive
Example. Here we implement an IEqualityComparer class called CustomComparer. We use the Implements and Shadows keywords to specify what functions are used in compilation.
Note In Equals, we loop through 2 equal-length strings, and compare all characters but ignore digits.
Note 2 In GetHashCode, we compute a hash code for all characters except digits. This allows us to completely ignore digits.
Next In Main, we create a Dictionary and specify the CustomComparer, which is used within Dictionary when computing hashing and testing keys.
Finally We see that the values of digits are ignored in the Dictionary. All digit characters are considered equal.
Class CustomComparer : Implements IEqualityComparer(Of String) Shadows Function Equals(x As String, y As String) As Boolean Implements IEqualityComparer(Of String).Equals ' Two strings are equal if they have all the same characters, and digits are always equal. If x.Length = y.Length For i = 0 To x.Length - 1 If Char.IsDigit(x(i)) And Char.IsDigit(y(i)) Continue For End If If x(i) <> y(i) Return False End If Next Return True End If Return False End Function Shadows Function GetHashCode(obj As String) As Integer Implements IEqualityComparer(Of String).GetHashCode ' Ignore digits when comparing a hash code. Dim result = 0 For i = 0 To obj.Length - 1 If Not Char.IsDigit(obj(i)) result += Asc(obj(i)) End If Next Return result End Function End Class Module Module1 Sub Main() ' Create a Dictionary with the IEqualityComparer. Dim test = New Dictionary(Of String, Integer)(New CustomComparer()) test.Add("bird123", 10) test.Add("cat3", 20) test.Add("dog", 30) ' Test the digit-ignoring comparer. Console.WriteLine(test.GetValueOrDefault("bird000")) Console.WriteLine(test.GetValueOrDefault("cat6")) Console.WriteLine(test.GetValueOrDefault("dog")) Console.WriteLine(test.GetValueOrDefault("bird5000")) End Sub End Module
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Some uses. Suppose we have a Dictionary that has keys but some parts of the keys are not important. By using a custom IEqualityComparer, we can use the Dictionary more directly.
And We can avoid creating new strings when doing Dictionary lookups, which could improve performance.
Finally More complex fuzzy searches could be implemented with IEqualityComparer—we could ignore punctuation, or character cases.
Summary. While a String Dictionary requires exact key matches, with IEqualityComparer we can modify this behavior. We can change Dictionary to perform fuzzy string matching.
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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 (new).
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