ContainsKey MethodUse the ContainsKey method on the Dictionary to test for key existence.
This page was last reviewed on Oct 25, 2023.
ContainsKey. This is a C# Dictionary method. It computes the hash code for its argument, and then checks the internal structures in the Dictionary to see if that key exists.
C# method notes. ContainsKey is extremely fast. It does no linear searching—instead, it uses a hash code to estimate where the data is stored.
An example. You will find the ContainsKey method on a Dictionary. In Visual Studio, try typing the variable name and pressing period, and then scrolling to ContainsKey.
Part 1 The program populates the Dictionary with 2 key-value pairs. Each has a string key, and an int value.
Part 2 You can test ContainsKey in an if-statement. It will not throw exceptions on a key that is not found.
Part 3 If the key is not found, the inner body of the if-statement is not entered—so false is not printed here.
using System; using System.Collections.Generic; // Part 1: create Dictionary with 2 key value pairs. var dictionary = new Dictionary<string, int>() { { "mac", 1000 }, { "windows", 500 } }; // Part 2: use ContainsKey method. if (dictionary.ContainsKey("mac") == true) { Console.WriteLine(dictionary["mac"]); } // Part 3: use ContainsKey on a key that does not exist. if (dictionary.ContainsKey("acorn")) { Console.WriteLine(false); }
Foreach Keys. Suppose we want to scan the keys of a Dictionary to match a certain condition (like strings that end in a number). We can use a foreach-loop over the Keys property.
Note This approach is much slower than ContainsKey, but if it has the correct result and is needed, it can be helpful.
Part 1 We create a Dictionary with 2 string keys and 2 bool values using an initializer.
Part 2 We use a foreach-loop over the Keys property, and call EndsWith on each key.
StartsWith, EndsWith
using System; using System.Collections.Generic; // Part 1: create Dictionary. var ids = new Dictionary<string, bool>() { { "X1", true }, { "X2", true } }; // Part 2: use a foreach-loop on keys for more advanced scanning logic. foreach (var key in ids.Keys) { if (key.EndsWith("2")) { Console.WriteLine($"KEY ENDS WITH 2: {key}"); } }
Internals. The .NET runtime implements the ContainsKey method. Dictionary has a FindEntry() method which loops over the entries in the Dictionary that are pointed to by the buckets array.
And When it finds a matching hash code, it compares the key values and then returns the actual value.
Return The ContainsKey method discards some of the values it finds and simply returns a Boolean.
Detail Using TryGetValue can be used to perform these operations at one time, improving runtime speed.
Benchmark. A benchmark of ContainsKey compared to ContainsValue shows that ContainsKey is many times faster (the exact amount depends on the Dictionary size). This is important to know.
Summary. ContainsKey checks for a key's existence. Dictionary implements a lightning-fast lookup table. But it will throw exceptions if you try to access an entry when no key exists.
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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 Oct 25, 2023 (edit).
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