Hashtable in Java

A Hashtable in Java is a data structure that stores key-value pairs, similar to a map. It is implemented using a hash table, which is a data structure that uses a hash function to map keys to indexes in an array. This allows for fast insertion and retrieval of elements, with an average time complexity of O(1) for most operations.

Hashtable is thread-safe

One of the main advantages of a Hashtable is that it is thread-safe, which means that multiple threads can access and modify the table simultaneously without the need for external synchronization. This makes it useful for building concurrent applications.

However, a Hashtable is not as efficient as some other map implementations, such as HashMap, in terms of performance. It is also not suitable for use with mutable keys, as the key’s hash code may change after it has been added to the table, leading to unpredictable behavior.

Key Features of HashTable

Before diving into the technical details, let’s highlight some of the key features that set HashTable apart:

  • Fast Access: HashTables provide constant-time access to values, making them ideal for scenarios where data retrieval speed is critical.
  • Key-Value Association: HashTables establish associations between keys and values, enabling efficient data storage and retrieval.
  • Dynamic Sizing: HashTables can dynamically resize themselves to accommodate more key-value pairs as needed.
  • Collisions Handling: HashTables implement collision resolution strategies to manage situations where multiple keys map to the same index.

With a broad overview of HashTable’s features, let’s dive deeper into its functionality and explore how it can simplify your Java programming tasks.

Creating and Using a HashTable in Java

Following is an example of how to create and use a Hashtable in Java:

import java.util.Hashtable;

public class Main {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    // Create a Hashtable with default capacity and load factor
    Hashtable<String, Integer> table = new Hashtable<>();

    // Add some key-value pairs to the table
    table.put("Radha", 25);
    table.put("Krishnan", 30);
    table.put("Hari", 35);

    // Check if the table contains a key
    if (table.containsKey("Radha")) {
      System.out.println("Radha is in the table");

    // Get the value for a key
    int age = table.get("Hari");
    System.out.println("Hari is " + age + " years old");

    // Remove a key-value pair from the table


Radha is in the table
Hari is 35 years old

In this example, we create a Hashtable with String keys and Integer values, and add some key-value pairs to it. We then use the containsKey method to check if a key is in the table, and the get method to retrieve the value for a key. Finally, we use the remove method to remove a key-value pair from the table.

Common HashTable Applications

HashTables find application in various programming scenarios due to their efficient data retrieval capabilities. Here are some common use cases:

  • Caching: HashTables serve as efficient caches, storing frequently accessed data to avoid expensive computations.
  • Database Indexing: Databases use HashTables to index and retrieve data quickly based on key values.
  • Language Processing: HashTables are used in language processing tasks, such as storing words and their frequencies.
  • Symbol Tables: Compilers and interpreters use HashTables to store identifiers (variables, functions) and their attributes.

FAQs about HashTable in Java

Is HashTable thread-safe?

Yes, the Hashtable class in Java is thread-safe, making it suitable for concurrent operations.

Are there alternatives to HashTable?

Yes, the HashMap class is a popular alternative that provides similar functionality with better performance in most cases.

Can HashTable store null values?

No, HashTable does not allow null keys or values. Attempting to do so will result in a NullPointerException.

How does resizing work in HashTable?

When the number of key-value pairs exceeds a certain threshold, HashTable automatically resizes itself to maintain efficient operations.

Is HashTable part of the Java Collections Framework?

Yes, HashTable is part of the Java Collections Framework and offers key-value pair storage with hashing.