Full feature implementation of hash/associated arrays/dictionaries

This package implements a data structure similar to hashes in Perl and dictionaries in Python but with a purposefully R flavor. For objects of appreciable size, access using hashes outperforms native named lists and vectors.

The hash package provides a fully-functional hash / dictionary functionality for the R language (http://decisionpatters.com).


HASH KEYS must be a valid character value and may not be the empty string \code{""}.

HASH VALUES can be any R value, vector or object.


The hash package is the only full featured hash implementation for the R language. It provides more features and finer control of the hash behavior than the native feature set and has similar and sometimes better performance.

PASS-BY REFERENCE. Environments and hashes are special objects in R because only one copy exists globally. When provide as an argument to a function, no local copy is made and any changes to the hash in the functions are reflected globally.

PERFORMANCE. Hashes are based on R's native environments and are designed to be exceedingly fast using the environments internal hash table. For small data structures, a list will out-perform a hash in nearly every case. For larger data structure, i.e. > 500 key value pair the performance of the hash becomes faster. Much beyond that the performance of the hash far outperforms native lists.

MEMORY. Objects of class hash do not release memory with a call to rm. clear must be called before rm to properly release the memory.


2014-02-24 Version 3.0.1

  • Add importFrom(methods) to NAMESPACE file

2014-02-01 Version 3.0.0

Incompatibe Changes breaking some backward compatability:

  • h[] returns a copy of h

New features

  • New ways to edit key names: ** setkeys allows setting of key names similar to data.table's setnames ** keys<- for setting simple keys

  • names works same as keys

Organizational Changes

  • Fully converted to roxygen2 documentation
  • Better organized files
  • much improved documetation.


2013-02-20 Version 2.2.6

  • Fixes bug with '[' assessor which was broken. Thanks to Jeremy Rassen.
  • Adds some test for accessors using testthat

2013-01-31 Version 2.2.5 Fixes bug with has.key. Because of the default settingg of inherits=TRUE in the exists function, the has.key function was revealing keys for objects found on inherited environments, this included functions such as 'c' and 'q'. Thanks to Michael Pratt for spotting the bug.

2012-04-25 Version 2.2.0 Recaptured orphaned package

  • R/zzz.R: uses utlis::packageVersion(pkgname, libname)
  • R/DESCRIPTION: Dependency to R-2.12.0+

2011-03-17 Version 2.1.0 Changed contact information.

2010-09-26 Version 2.0.2 (cbrown) Just releasing as version 2.0.2. Mostly, documentation and benchmarks added. Unreleased to CRAN.


  • demo/hash-benchmarks.R has been expanded.


  • man/hash-package.Rd
  • man/hash-class.Rd: Ammended notes section specifically being more clear about the PASS-BY-REFERENCE BEHAVIOR of HASHES

2010-05-26 Version 2.0.1 (cbrown)

  • At the request of Michael Hahsler, removed the ODG ASCII ART logo in the .OnLoad method. It will comeback as soon as I can figure out how to disable it through the appropriate option.

Hi Christopher,

thank you for providing the package hash. I am thinking of using it in my rEMM package. Is there a way to make the load message a little less flashy. I include hash in my DESCRIPTION file and the ASCII art comes always up when my package loads.

Thanks, Michael

-- Dr. Michael Hahsler, Visiting Assistant Professor Department of Computer Science and Engineering Lyle School of Engineering Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

2010-04-24 Version 2.0.0 (cbrown)

  • The coercion of keys make.keys has largely been deprecated. This might change in future version, but what we really want is to have any object stand for the keys that will get automatically converted. This might be make.key in the future. Also, we removed .get. All the accessor coding now exists in the definition of the native accessors.

  • R/format : implement max.print to display only getOption('max.print') keys.

  • R/na.actions : na..hash function's have been renamed to hash.na.function. This is so as not to conflict with the base::na. S3 functions. It is unfortunate, because it would have been nice to retain a name. It was impossible because of the generic form of the functions, na.fail which requires an object as the first argument. Meanwhile, the 'ifnotfound' argument of mget takes one argument. mget is extensively used in this package and the one argument that needs to be passed is the name of the key. The choice was to either re-write the standardGeneric which will cause downstream problems -OR- abandone the na.* names. The latter was chosen with the added benefit that other hash controlled options would be grouped by hash.* in the option vector.

  • R/Class-hash:

    • [[, [[<-: DEPRECATED
      • methods deprecated because new objects can inherit from environments.
    • $ : DEPRECATED
      • methods deprecated because new objects can inherit from environments
      • NB. $<- is still retained so that ha$a <- NULL will remove 'a' from ha.
    • [:
      • No longer relise on .set, creates new hash directly
  • R/hash-benchmark.R

    • Uses rbenchmark to check various perfomance metrics

    • Suggests: rbenchmark (>= 0.3)
  • R/get-R: .get DEPRECATED for perfomance reasons.

  • R/values.R:

    • values()
      • redefined as function(x, keys=NULL, ... )
      • no longer uses .get
  • R/hash-action.R : DEPRECATED After renaming these, it was decided that these would be DEPRECATED. Sometimes consitency is better than customizabilty. replaces R/na.action with the following funcitons renamed:

    • hash.na.fail => hash.fail
    • hash.na.warn => hash.warn
    • hash.na.default => hash.default


  • Passes Checks on R 2.9.2, 2.10.1. 2.11.0 (devel)
  • Warning on CHECK: Defining type "environment" as a superclass via class ".environment"

Some R data types do not behave normally, in the sense that they are non-local references or other objects that are not duplicated. Examples include those corresponding to classes "environment", "externalptr", and "name". These can not be the types for objects with user-defined classes (either S4 or S3) because setting an attribute overwrites the object in all contexts. It is possible to define a class that inherits from such types, through an indirect mechanism that stores the inherited object in a reserved slot. The implementation tries to make such classes behave as if the object had a data part of the corresponding object type. Methods defined with the object type in the signature should work as should core code that coerces an object to the type in an internal or primitive calculation. There is no guarantee, however, because C-level code may switch directly on the object type, which in this case will be "S4". The cautious mechanism is to use as(x, "environment") or something similar before doing the low-level computation. See the example for class "stampedEnv" below.

  • R/Class-hash.R: Added if( getRversion ) to accomodate older and newer versions of R.
  • man/hash-accessors.Rd: added alias for $-hash,NULL-method.

2010-02-16 Version 1.99.3 (cbrown)

  • Fixed several typos
  • R/Class-hash.R
    • [[ now allows for na.action and works correctly
    • $ now calls [[ rather than get

2010-02-16 Version 1.99.1 (cbrown)

  • Fixed S4 Documentation Bugs throughtout
  • R/Class-hash.R : sped up $ and [[ with 'try' was previously using keys which is very slow by comparison.
  • R/values.R : fixed definition to values<-


  • R/Class-hash.R: fixed $ accessor to remove 'name'
  • R/get:
    • Added ability to control the default action when non-existant keys are requested. Thanks Matthias Buch-Kromann.
    • Deault for non-existant keys is NA.
    • Added customizable behavior for accessing non-existing keys
  • man/hash-pacakge.Rd: Added note comparing hash implementation to native environments

2010-02-15 Version 1.10.3 (cbrown)

  • R/keys.R: added all.names = T to show even hidden names.
  • R/values.R:
    • Added keys argument to 'values' and 'values<'- methods.
    • 'values' Passes ... argument to .get method Thanks Matthias Buch-Kromann.

2010-01-01 Version 1.10.2 (cbrown)

  • R/Class-hash.R
    • Added methods signature [-hash,missing,... to return the case when no indexes are provided to the hash slice method.
  • R/get.R
    • get.R will not return a simplified version from sapply call. When the hash had values with all the same elements, a matrix was returned and this interferred with the hash slices, [. I am not sure the behavior was even useful.
  • R/values.R
    • Added replacement method for values
  • R/zzz.R
    • Make it so that the odg.logo is displayed only once per session.

2009-12-09 Version 1.10.1 (cbrown)

  • R/Class-hash.R
    • Removed 'name' from signature for methods: $, $<-

2009-11-29 Version 1.10.0 (cbrown)

  • R/set.R
    • Fixed problem pointed out by Denise Maudlin from blog.opendatagroup.com key <- 'one' ikey <- 'two' val <- 'three' info <- hash() info[key] <- hash( keys=c(ikey), values=c(val) ) Error in get(make.keys(i), [email protected]) : object ‘1′ not found Solution is to check if only one key is provided than the values are are the value vector.
  • tests/set.r
    • Added test for adding hashes as values.
  • Class-hash.R
    • [[-method: verifies if argument is a previously assigned key. If not, method returns NULL with a warning. NULL with a warning.
    • $-method: verifies if argument is a previously assigned key. If not, method returns NULL with a warning.

2009-11-11 (cbrown)

  • R/zzz.R
    • Fixed logo
  • R/invert.R
    • Made better generic for use with formula tools

2009-11-04 Version 1.0.3 (cbrown)

  • Fixed dependency of R-2.9.0

2009-10-14 (cbrown)

  • show.R
    • Handled cases where values are not supported by "format". These are collapsed as character

2009-10-11 (cbrown) Version 1.0.2

  • revert previous change allowing [[(hash) to accept multiple keys

2009-10-09 (cbrown) Version 1.0.1 ( not released on CRAN )

  • [[(hash) support for multiple supplied keys also passes ... to simplify
  • now properly inherits from environment
  • requires R>=2.9.0

2009-09-30 (cbrown)

  • validate.key rename make.keys
    • This is more R-ish and more like the make.names function.

2009-09-28 (cbrown)

  • R/hash.R:

    • Fixed format of hash accessors. Now hashes can contain hashes.
    • Deprecated use of [[ with multipe keys.
  • R/show.R: Now aliases format

  • R/format.R: added

  • R/zzz.R: added graphical Open Data Logo

  • R/print.R: added

2009-09-04 (cbrown)

  • R/zzz.R: added Open Data message

2009-09-04 Version 0.40 (cbrown)

  • R/get.R: Added drop to reduce to lowest dimension by default.
  • R/invert.R:
    • invert method added.
    • inverted.hash function added.

Reference manual

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2.2.6 by Christopher Brown, 9 years ago

Browse source code at https://github.com/cran/hash

Authors: Christopher Brown

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

GPL (>= 2) license

Depends on methods, utils

Suggests testthat

Imported by CITAN, GWASinspector, IPDFileCheck, ReinforcementLearning, TSDT, dataone, datapack, epos, hhcartr, medicalrisk, noah, packDAMipd, pkgndep, popsom, rFSA, rankdist, sBIC, sklarsomega, tictactoe.

Depended on by BOG, GABi, neuroim, orderbook.

Suggested by hadron, r2r.

See at CRAN