[SOLVED] Is there any advantage of using map over unordered_map in case of trivial keys?

Issue

A recent talk about unordered_map in C++ made me realize that I should use unordered_map for most cases where I used map before, because of the efficiency of lookup ( amortized O(1) vs. O(log n) ). Most times I use a map, I use either int or std::string as the key type; hence, I’ve got no problems with the definition of the hash function. The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that I can’t find any reason of using a std::map over a std::unordered_map in the case of keys with simple types — I took a look at the interfaces, and didn’t find any significant differences that would impact my code.

Hence the question: is there any real reason to use std::map over std::unordered_map in the case of simple types like int and std::string?

I’m asking from a strictly programming point of view — I know that it’s not fully considered standard, and that it may pose problems with porting.

Also, I expect that one of the correct answers might be “it’s more efficient for smaller sets of data” because of a smaller overhead (is that true?) — hence I’d like to restrict the question to cases where the amount of keys is non-trivial (>1 024).

Edit: duh, I forgot the obvious (thanks GMan!) — yes, maps are ordered of course — I know that, and am looking for other reasons.

Solution

Don’t forget that map keeps its elements ordered. If you can’t give that up, obviously you can’t use unordered_map.

Something else to keep in mind is that unordered_map generally uses more memory. map just has a few house-keeping pointers, and memory for each object. Contrarily, unordered_map has a big array (these can get quite big in some implementations), and then additional memory for each object. If you need to be memory-aware, map should prove better, because it lacks the large array.

So, if you need pure lookup-retrieval, I’d say unordered_map is the way to go. But there are always trade-offs, and if you can’t afford them, then you can’t use it.

Just from personal experience, I found an enormous improvement in performance (measured, of course) when using unordered_map instead of map in a main entity look-up table.

On the other hand, I found it was much slower at repeatedly inserting and removing elements. It’s great for a relatively static collection of elements, but if you’re doing tons of insertions and deletions the hashing + bucketing seems to add up. (Note, this was over many iterations.)

Answered By – GManNickG

Answer Checked By – Dawn Plyler (BugsFixing Volunteer)

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