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Re: Robin Hood Hashing for the perl core

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Ed Avis
August 20, 2021 05:16
Re: Robin Hood Hashing for the perl core
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Thanks for your reply.  I imagined that if you use the pointer address as the hash key, you'd need a separate field storing the type of object or the package name it's blessed into.  That's needed to always return the same string as when it was first inserted.  Having the separate lookup adds overhead, but I think it would still be a win compared to making, hashing, and storing the string each time.

You make a good point that the stringification of an object can change while its address does not.  I would say that using such objects as hash keys is asking for trouble to start with.  Of course, it has to be handled if the new implementation is to be 100% compatible.  Perhaps one day, the semantics could change a little so that if an object's stringification changes, the stringified hash key also changes but the object retains its position in the hash, since it's hashed by identity.  But that would be out of scope for the current work.

The question of "value" types like Math::BigInt is a bigger reason why it's hard to change the current behaviour.  I think it's unfortunate; Perl has painted itself into a corner with forcing all hash keys to be strings and losing the original identity, and there's no clear path to change it without a compatibility break, when in my opinion using an object as a hash key and getting back the same object falls under "easy things should be easy".

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