Lecture Preview: Sets, Lexicons, and Maps

(Suggested book reading: Programming Abstractions in C++, section 5.4 - 5.6)

In this lecture we will talk about three new data structures:

  • A set is a collection that stores its elements in sorted order and does not allow duplicates. Sets are useful when you want a collection that ensures that all of its data is unique.


  • A lexicon is a set that is specialized to store words from a dictionary. It is good for searching for words or searching for a prefix (starting substring) of a word.

  • A map is a collection that stores pairs rather than single values. Each pair contains two parts called a key and a value. You can use a key to look up a value later. Maps are useful for storing one-way associations like a dictionary or phone book.


Here is a short code example that uses a set:

Set<int> set;
set.add(12);           // duplicate; not added
set.add(8);            // duplicate; not added
cout << set << endl;   // {8, 12, 17}

Here is a short code example that uses a map:

Map<string, double> salary;
salary["Marty"]   = 10000.00;                // or, salary.put("Marty",   10000.00);
salary["Cynthia"] = 40000.00;                // or, salary.put("Cynthia", 40000.00);
salary["Mehran"]  = 2 * salary["Cynthia"];   // or, salary.put("Mehran",  2 * salary.get("Cynthia"));
cout << salary << endl;                      // {"Cynthia":40000.0, "Marty":10000.0, "Mehran":80000.0}
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