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A concurrent hash table based on Java's ConcurrentHashMap.

A hash table that supports full concurrency of retrievals and high expected concurrency for updates. This type is functionally very similar to std::collections::HashMap, and for the most part has a similar API. Even though all operations on the map are thread-safe and operate on shared references, retrieval operations do not entail locking, and there is not any support for locking the entire table in a way that prevents all access.

A note on Guard and memory use

You may have noticed that many of the access methods on this map take a reference to an epoch::Guard. The exact details of this are beyond the scope of this documentation (for that, see crossbeam::epoch), but some of the implications bear repeating here. You obtain a Guard using epoch::pin, and you can use references to the same guard to make multiple API calls if you wish. Whenever you get a reference to something stored in the map, that reference is tied to the lifetime of the Guard that you provided. This is because each Guard prevents the destruction of any item associated with it. Whenever something is read under a Guard, that something stays around for at least as long as the Guard does. The map delays deallocating values until it safe to do so, and in order to amortize the cost of the necessary bookkeeping it may delay even further until there's a batch of items that need to be deallocated.

Notice that there is a trade-off here. Creating and dropping a Guard is not free, since it also needs to interact with said bookkeeping. But if you keep one around for a long time, you may accumulate much garbage which will take up valuable free memory on your system. Use your best judgement in deciding whether or not to re-use a Guard. This is also the reason why the map requires that K: 'static and V: 'static. If we did not, then your keys and values may get dropped far later, potentially after those lifetimes have passed, which would not be sound.


Retrieval operations (including get) generally do not block, so may overlap with update operations (including insert). Retrievals reflect the results of the most recently completed update operations holding upon their onset. (More formally, an update operation for a given key bears a happens-before relation with any successful retrieval for that key reporting the updated value.)

Operations that inspect the map as a whole, rather than a single key, operate on a snapshot of the underlying table. For example, iterators return elements reflecting the state of the hash table at some point at or since the creation of the iterator. Aggregate status methods like len are typically useful only when a map is not undergoing concurrent updates in other threads. Otherwise the results of these methods reflect transient states that may be adequate for monitoring or estimation purposes, but not for program control. Similarly, Clone may not produce a "perfect" clone if the underlying map is being concurrently modified.

Resizing behavior

The table is dynamically expanded when there are too many collisions (i.e., keys that have distinct hash codes but fall into the same slot modulo the table size), with the expected average effect of maintaining roughly two bins per mapping (corresponding to a 0.75 load factor threshold for resizing). There may be much variance around this average as mappings are added and removed, but overall, this maintains a commonly accepted time/space tradeoff for hash tables. However, resizing this or any other kind of hash table may be a relatively slow operation. When possible, it is a good idea to provide a size estimate by using the with_capacity constructor. Note that using many keys with exactly the same Hash value is a sure way to slow down performance of any hash table.

Implementation notes

This data-structure is a pretty direct port of Java's java.util.concurrent.ConcurrentHashMap from Doug Lea and the rest of the JSR166 team. Huge thanks to them for releasing the code into the public domain! Much of the documentation is also lifted from there. What follows is a slightly modified version of their implementation notes from within the source file.

The primary design goal of this hash table is to maintain concurrent readability (typically method get(), but also iterators and related methods) while minimizing update contention. Secondary goals are to keep space consumption about the same or better than java.util.HashMap, and to support high initial insertion rates on an empty table by many threads.

This map usually acts as a binned (bucketed) hash table. Each key-value mapping is held in a BinEntry. Most nodes are of type BinEntry::Node with hash, key, value, and a next field. However, some nodes are of type BinEntry::Moved; these "forwarding nodes" are placed at the heads of bins during resizing. The Java version also has other special node types, but these have not yet been implemented in this port. These special nodes are all either uncommon or transient.

The table is lazily initialized to a power-of-two size upon the first insertion. Each bin in the table normally contains a list of nodes (most often, the list has only zero or one BinEntry). Table accesses require atomic reads, writes, and CASes.

Insertion (via put) of the first node in an empty bin is performed by just CASing it to the bin. This is by far the most common case for put operations under most key/hash distributions. Other update operations (insert, delete, and replace) require locks. We do not want to waste the space required to associate a distinct lock object with each bin, so we instead embed a lock inside each node, and use the lock in the the first node of a bin list as the lock for the bin.

Using the first node of a list as a lock does not by itself suffice though: When a node is locked, any update must first validate that it is still the first node after locking it, and retry if not. Because new nodes are always appended to lists, once a node is first in a bin, it remains first until deleted or the bin becomes invalidated (upon resizing).

The main disadvantage of per-bin locks is that other update operations on other nodes in a bin list protected by the same lock can stall, for example when user Eq implementations or mapping functions take a long time. However, statistically, under random hash codes, this is not a common problem. Ideally, the frequency of nodes in bins follows a Poisson distribution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisson_distribution) with a parameter of about 0.5 on average, given the resizing threshold of 0.75, although with a large variance because of resizing granularity. Ignoring variance, the expected occurrences of list size k are exp(-0.5) * pow(0.5, k) / factorial(k). The first values are:

0:    0.60653066
1:    0.30326533
2:    0.07581633
3:    0.01263606
4:    0.00157952
5:    0.00015795
6:    0.00001316
7:    0.00000094
8:    0.00000006
more: less than 1 in ten million

Lock contention probability for two threads accessing distinct elements is roughly 1 / (8 * #elements) under random hashes.

Actual hash code distributions encountered in practice sometimes deviate significantly from uniform randomness. This includes the case when N > (1<<30), so some keys MUST collide. Similarly for dumb or hostile usages in which multiple keys are designed to have identical hash codes or ones that differs only in masked-out high bits. Here, the Java implementation uses an optimization where a bin is turned into a binary tree, but this has not yet been ported over to the Rust version.

The table is resized when occupancy exceeds a percentage threshold (nominally, 0.75, but see below). Any thread noticing an overfull bin may assist in resizing after the initiating thread allocates and sets up the replacement array. However, rather than stalling, these other threads may proceed with insertions etc. Resizing proceeds by transferring bins, one by one, from the table to the next table. However, threads claim small blocks of indices to transfer (via the field transfer_index) before doing so, reducing contention. A generation stamp in the field size_ctl ensures that resizings do not overlap. Because we are using power-of-two expansion, the elements from each bin must either stay at same index, or move with a power of two offset. We eliminate unnecessary node creation by catching cases where old nodes can be reused because their next fields won't change. On average, only about one-sixth of them need cloning when a table doubles. The nodes they replace will be garbage collectible as soon as they are no longer referenced by any reader thread that may be in the midst of concurrently traversing table. Upon transfer, the old table bin contains only a special forwarding node (BinEntry::Moved) that contains the next table as its key. On encountering a forwarding node, access and update operations restart, using the new table.

Each bin transfer requires its bin lock, which can stall waiting for locks while resizing. However, because other threads can join in and help resize rather than contend for locks, average aggregate waits become shorter as resizing progresses. The transfer operation must also ensure that all accessible bins in both the old and new table are usable by any traversal. This is arranged in part by proceeding from the last bin table.length - 1 up towards the first. Upon seeing a forwarding node, traversals (see iter::traverser::Traverser) arrange to move to the new table without revisiting nodes. To ensure that no intervening nodes are skipped even when moved out of order, a stack (see class iter::traverser::TableStack) is created on first encounter of a forwarding node during a traversal, to maintain its place if later processing the current table. The need for these save/restore mechanics is relatively rare, but when one forwarding node is encountered, typically many more will be. So Traversers use a simple caching scheme to avoid creating so many new TableStack nodes. (Thanks to Peter Levart for suggesting use of a stack here.)

Garbage collection

The Java implementation can rely on Java's runtime garbage collection to safely deallocate deleted or removed nodes, keys, and values. Since Rust does not have such a runtime, we must ensure through some other mechanism that we do not drop values before all references to them have goen away. We do this using crossbeam::epoch, which provides an implementation of an epoch-based garbae collection scheme. This forces us to make certain API changes such as requiring Guard arguments to many methods or wrapping the return values, but provides much more efficient operation than if everything had to be atomically reference-counted.



Types needed to safely access shared data concurrently.


Iterator types.



A concurrent hash table.


A reference to a HashMap, constructed with HashMap::pin or HashMap::with_guard.

Type Definitions


Default hasher for HashMap.