Map Implementation

Welcome to the blog about Map Interface. In this article, I am going to introduce a concept of Maps, also known as Dictionaries, and its implementations such as WeakHashMap and ConcurrentHashMap, with the accent on HashMap, TreeMap, LinkedHashMap, EnumMap and IdentityHashMap. I hope you will enjoy the content and gain some new experience.

A Map is an Interface that contains set key-value and has a form like this Map <K, V>, where K represents key and V stands for value. Keys are used for mapping the values and they are unique, which means that two same keys are not allowed. Also, keys are objects that are used to retrieve values.

Some usual methods are listed below, for further information feel free to check the official website:

There are three groups of Map implementations:


HashTable extends Dictionary<K,V> Class and implements Map<K,V>, Cloneable and Serializable Interfaces. It stores key-value pairs in a hash table, where keys are mapped to values. HashTable is synchronized and an instance of Hashtable has two parameters that affect performance. One is initial capacity that represents the number of buckets in the hash table at the time the hash table is created, and the other is load factor that represents a measure of how full the hash table is allowed to get before its capacity is increased. Higher values of the load factor decrease the space but increase the time cost so it is up to the developer to balance between these values. The default load factor is (.75).


HashMap extends AbstractMap<K,V> Class and implements Map<K,V>, Cloneable and Serializable Interfaces. Also, it represents an implementation of Map based on HashTable. The advantage is that the execution time remains constant even for large sets. In other words, HashMap is used if the speed is important to you and iteration order is not your primary focus. The characteristic about HashMap is that order of the elements is not guaranteed and it can shuffle time to time.

For adding an element, the requirements are key and value. As it is said, keys are used to retrieve values and in this case, it can be null. HashMap generates a hash code for the key and checks if there is any value associated with it. If it is, then HashMap returns the value, otherwise, it adds value associated to the key.

Below are the most commonly used HashMap methods:


// Creating HashMap
Map fruits = new HashMap();

// Adding fruits
fruits.put("Banana", 1);
fruits.put("Apple", 12);
fruits.put("Avocado", 8);

System.out.println("Fruits: " + fruits.size());

// Iterate over fruits
for(Object x: fruits.keySet()) {
   System.out.println(x + " - " + fruits.get(x));

// Clear all values.

System.out.println("Size: " + fruits.size());


TreeMap extends AbstractMap<K,V> Class and implements NavigableMap<K,V>, Cloneable and Serializable Interfaces. The thing that is associated with TreeMap is that it is sorted according to the natural ordering of its keys, or by a Comparator provided at the creation time. In opposite of HashMap, this class maintains an order on its elements. For an integer, it sorts elements to ascending order and for Strings, it is an alphabetical order. There is also the possibility of self-defining the order.

This type is recommended to use if you need SortedMap operations or key-ordered Collection-view iteration. TreeMap is not synchronized, which means that if you use multiple threads, it must be synchronized externally.


// Creating a TreeMap
SortedMap<String, Integer> fruits  = new TreeMap<>();

// Adding fruits
fruits.put("Banana", 1);
fruits.put("Apple", 2);
fruits.put("Avocado", 5);
fruits.put("Orange", 22);



LinkedHashMap extends HashMap<K,V> Class and implements Map<K,V> Interface and is recommended if you want a performance near good as HashMap and insertion order iteration. Since it has a possibility to use removeEldestEntry method, there is an easy way to make a custom cache (we encourage the reader to try to do this example).

LinkedHashMap maintains a doubly-linked list which defines the iteration ordering that represents the order in which keys are inserted into the map, but it is also based on the hash table and therefore it differs from HashMap. Their common side is that both, HashMap and LinkedHashMap, permits null elements and has constant execution time, but because of the linked list, LinkedHashMap has slightly lower performance.

Just as HashMap and TreeMap, LinkedHashMap is not synchronized as well, which means that if you use multiple threads, it must be synchronized externally.


// Creating LinkedHashMap
Map<String, String> fruits = new LinkedHashMap<String, String>();
// Adding fruits
fruits.put("Banana", "1");
fruits.put("Apple", "12");
fruits.put("Avocado", "5");
fruits.put("Orange", "25");
fruits.put(null, "22" );
// Iterating
for(Map.Entry<String, String> x : fruits.entrySet()){
   System.out.println(x.getKey() + " " + x.getValue());


EnumMap which extends AbstractMap<K,V> Class and implements Serializable and Cloneable Interfaces, is internally implemented as an array. It represents a high performance Map implementation and is used with enum keys. It is recommended if you want to map an enum to a value.

Similar to TreeMap, EnumMap is maintained in the natural order of their keys. EnumMap is a combination of the safety of the Map Interface and a wide range of its methods with a speed that is similar to an array. Null keys are not permitted and they lead to a NullPointerException, but Null values are free to use.

Like the previously mentioned classes, EnumMap is not synchronized as well. The example of a declaration is below:

EnumMap<SomeClass, String> map = new EnumMap<SomeClass, String>;


// Creating EnumMap
EnumMap<Test, String> fruits = new EnumMap<Test, String>(Test.class);
// Adding fruits
fruits.put(Test.A, "Banana");
fruits.put(Test.B, "Apple");
fruits.put(Test.C, "Avocado");
fruits.put(Test.D, "Orange");
//Iterate over key
for(Test x: fruits.keySet()) {
   System.out.println(x +" "+ x.getNumber());
// Iterate over values
for(String x: fruits.values()) {

enum Test {

   A(1), B(2), C(3), D(4);
   private int number;
   private Test(int x) {
      number = x;
   public int getNumber() {
      return number;


IdentityHashMap extends AbstractMap<K,V> Class and implements Map<K,V>, Serializable and Cloneable Interfaces. This Class implements Map Interface with a hash table and its keys comparison is not based on the object equality, but on the reference equality. In normal Map implementation, such as HashMap, two keys are equal only if k1==null when k2==null or if k1.equals(k2). In an IdentityHashMap it is different, two keys are equal only if k1==k2.

In IdentityHashMap Class the order is not guaranteed, it has constant-time performance and this implementation is not synchronized. This Class is used on special occasions, when reference-equality semantics are required, and permits null values and the null key. The examples are maintaining proxy objects, topology-preserving object graph transformations, such as serialization or deep-copying and more.


// Creating IdentityHashMap
Map fruits = new IdentityHashMap();
// Adding fruits
fruits.put(new String("1") ,"Banana"); 
fruits.put(new String("2") ,"Avocado"); 
fruits.put(new String("3") ,"Apple"); 
System.out.println("Fruits:"+ fruits);   

If you liked this article, you might be interested in Lists, Sets, Maps, Queues and Deques. Feel free to browse.