When to use hash

function in programming.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

A hash function takes an input as a key, which is associated with a datum or record and used to identify it to the data storage and retrieval application. The keys may be fixed length, like an integer, or variable length, like a name. In some cases, the key is the datum itself. The output is a hash code used to index a hash table holding the data or records, or pointers to them.

A hash function may be considered to perform three functions:

  • Convert variable length keys into fixed length (usually machine word length or less) values, by folding them by words or other units using a parity-preserving operator like ADD or XOR.
  • Scramble the bits of the key so that the resulting values are uniformly distributed over the key space.
  • Map the key values into ones less than or equal to the size of the table

A good hash function satisfies two basic properties: 1) it should be very fast to compute; 2) it should minimize duplication of output values (collisions). Hash functions rely on generating favorable probability distributions for their effectiveness, reducing access time to nearly constant. High table loading factors, pathological key sets and poorly designed hash functions can result in access times approaching linear in the number of items in the table. Hash functions can be designed to give best worst-case performance,[Notes 1] good performance under high table loading factors, and in special cases, perfect (collisionless) mapping of keys into hash codes. Implementation is based on parity-preserving bit operations (XOR and ADD), multiply, or divide. A necessary adjunct to the hash function is a collision-resolution method that employs an auxiliary data structure like linked lists, or systematic probing of the table to find an empty slot.

To put it simply:

A hash is like a fingerprint for data. A hash function takes your data — which can be any length — as an input, and gives you back an identifier of a smaller (usually), fixed (usually) length, which you can use to index or compare or identify the data.

A example implementing hash function in C:

Run the test with


Would show the hash value is


Happy programming !!!


A passionate automation engineer who strongly believes in “A man can do anything he wants if he puts in the work”.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store