This chapter introduces how data can be referenced by key words to collect and manage large collections of sequences and their related information in the versatile, table-like data structure of a hash. Hash tables provide a programmer with the ability to intuitively and efficiently store and access related pieces of information. In contrast to an array that is a list of cells each accessed by an integer, a hash table references its cells by a key word (a string). Hash tables are a powerful data structure and make a number of sequence-related tasks easy, for example, converting amino acid names to their three-code symbol or storing the number of oligonucleotide counts of every motif of a certain length in a genome. Side boxes include: the Three Bears vs. the Gettysburg Address, Chargaffian clues, complexity, and the convoluted etymology and use of octothorpe.
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