The Hash Function

This is the first building block of a hash table. Let's see how it works.

Restricting the Key Size

In the last lesson, we learned that a list can be used to implement a hash table in Python. A key is used to map a value on the list and the efficiency of a hash table depends on how a key is computed. At first glance, you may observe that we can directly use the indices as keys because each index is unique.

The only problem is that the key would eventually exceed the size of the list and, at every insertion, the list would need to be resized. Syntactically, we can easily increase list size in Python, but as we learned before, the process still takes O(n) time at the back end.

In order to limit the range of the keys to the boundaries of the list, we need a function that converts a large key into a smaller key. This is the job of the hash function.

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