The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7
IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition
Copyright © 2001-2013 The IEEE and The Open Group


hcreate, hdestroy, hsearch - manage hash search table


[XSI] [Option Start] #include <search.h>

int hcreate(size_t
void hdestroy(void);
ENTRY *hsearch(ENTRY
item, ACTION action); [Option End]


The hcreate(), hdestroy(), and hsearch() functions shall manage hash search tables.

The hcreate() function shall allocate sufficient space for the table, and the application shall ensure it is called before hsearch() is used. The nel argument is an estimate of the maximum number of entries that the table shall contain. This number may be adjusted upward by the algorithm in order to obtain certain mathematically favorable circumstances.

The hdestroy() function shall dispose of the search table, and may be followed by another call to hcreate(). After the call to hdestroy(), the data can no longer be considered accessible.

The hsearch() function is a hash-table search routine. It shall return a pointer into a hash table indicating the location at which an entry can be found. The item argument is a structure of type ENTRY (defined in the <search.h> header) containing two pointers: item.key points to the comparison key (a char *), and (a void *) points to any other data to be associated with that key. The comparison function used by hsearch() is strcmp(). The action argument is a member of an enumeration type ACTION indicating the disposition of the entry if it cannot be found in the table. ENTER indicates that the item should be inserted in the table at an appropriate point. FIND indicates that no entry should be made. Unsuccessful resolution is indicated by the return of a null pointer.

These functions need not be thread-safe.


The hcreate() function shall return 0 if it cannot allocate sufficient space for the table; otherwise, it shall return non-zero.

The hdestroy() function shall not return a value.

The hsearch() function shall return a null pointer if either the action is FIND and the item could not be found or the action is ENTER and the table is full.


The hcreate() and hsearch() functions may fail if:

Insufficient storage space is available.

The following sections are informative.


The following example reads in strings followed by two numbers and stores them in a hash table, discarding duplicates. It then reads in strings and finds the matching entry in the hash table and prints it out.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <search.h>
#include <string.h>

struct info { /* This is the info stored in the table */ int age, room; /* other than the key. */ };
#define NUM_EMPL 5000 /* # of elements in search table. */
int main(void) { char string_space[NUM_EMPL*20]; /* Space to store strings. */ struct info info_space[NUM_EMPL]; /* Space to store employee info. */ char *str_ptr = string_space; /* Next space in string_space. */ struct info *info_ptr = info_space; /* Next space in info_space. */ ENTRY item; ENTRY *found_item; /* Name to look for in table. */ char name_to_find[30];
int i = 0;
/* Create table; no error checking is performed. */ (void) hcreate(NUM_EMPL); while (scanf("%s%d%d", str_ptr, &info_ptr->age, &info_ptr->room) != EOF && i++ < NUM_EMPL) {
/* Put information in structure, and structure in item. */ item.key = str_ptr; = info_ptr; str_ptr += strlen(str_ptr) + 1; info_ptr++;
/* Put item into table. */ (void) hsearch(item, ENTER); }
/* Access table. */ item.key = name_to_find; while (scanf("%s", item.key) != EOF) { if ((found_item = hsearch(item, FIND)) != NULL) {
/* If item is in the table. */ (void)printf("found %s, age = %d, room = %d\n", found_item->key, ((struct info *)found_item->data)->age, ((struct info *)found_item->data)->room); } else (void)printf("no such employee %s\n", name_to_find); } return 0; }


The hcreate() and hsearch() functions may use malloc() to allocate space.






bsearch, lsearch, malloc, strcmp, tdelete

XBD <search.h>


First released in Issue 1. Derived from Issue 1 of the SVID.

Issue 6

The normative text is updated to avoid use of the term "must" for application requirements.

A note indicating that this function need not be reentrant is added to the DESCRIPTION.

Issue 7

Austin Group Interpretation 1003.1-2001 #156 is applied.

End of informative text.


return to top of page

UNIX ® is a registered Trademark of The Open Group.
POSIX ® is a registered Trademark of The IEEE.
Copyright © 2001-2013 The IEEE and The Open Group, All Rights Reserved
[ Main Index | XBD | XSH | XCU | XRAT ]