Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

For "algorithms", I mean, some really do care about insertion order. Like idk, if you have a priority queue, then you generally want FIFO ordering when the priority is the same? It like a pretty obvious desire in most cases... imagine a thread scheduler or a packet scheduler or what have you.

But generally it's about determinism and avoiding loss of information, not just whether a particular algorithm needs it. For example, you'd want serialize(obj) and serialize(deserialize(serialize(obj))) to produce the same output, otherwise you e.g. might not be able to cache stuf. But for a data structure like a hashtable, it's pretty tough (not logically impossible, but rather pointlessly difficult) to make that happen without preserving insertion order.

As another example, it's incredibly handy for a user to see items in the order in which they were inserted. Like say you're parsing command-line arguments, and the command is ./foo --x=y --w. If the user sees {x: y, w: None} then that tells them w was passed after x. That can be extremely useful for debugging; e.g. maybe you expected the caller to specify w earlier, in a different context and for an entirely different reason. Seeing that it came afterward immediately tells you something is wrong. But when such information is lost it's harder to debug code.

If --w can be specified in two places for "an entirely different reason", then an unordered data structure is simply inappropriate, full stop. That's not a question of debugging, that's a question of correctness.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact