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Combining hash values

Say you have a point class, representing a two dimensional location:

class point
{
    int x;
    int y;
public:
    point() : x(0), y(0) {}
    point(int x, int y) : x(x), y(y) {}

    bool operator==(point const& other) const
    {
        return x == other.x && y == other.y;
    }
};

and you wish to use it as the key for an unordered_map. You need to customise the hash for this structure. To do this we need to combine the hash values for x and y. The function boost::hash_combine is supplied for this purpose:

class point
{
    ...

    friend std::size_t hash_value(point const& p)
    {
        std::size_t seed = 0;
boost::hash_combine(seed, p.x);
boost::hash_combine(seed, p.y);

        return seed;
    }

    ...
};

Calls to hash_combine incrementally build the hash from the different members of point, it can be repeatedly called for any number of elements. It calls hash_value on the supplied element, and combines it with the seed.

Full code for this example is at /libs/functional/hash/examples/point.cpp.

When using __hash_combine the order of the calls matters.
    std::size_t seed = 0;
    boost::hash_combine(seed, 1);
    boost::hash_combine(seed, 2);
results in a different seed to:
    std::size_t seed = 0;
    boost::hash_combine(seed, 2);
    boost::hash_combine(seed, 1);
If you are calculating a hash value for data where the order of the data doesn't matter in comparisons (e.g. a set) you will have to ensure that the data is always supplied in the same order.

To calculate the hash of an iterator range you can use boost::hash_range:

std::vector<std::string> some_strings;
std::size_t hash =boost::hash_range(some_strings.begin(), some_strings.end());
Copyright 2005 Daniel James

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