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Version: 1.5.0


Ordinary maps are fine for contracts with a finite lifespan or a bounded number of users. For many contracts however, the intention is to have a map holding many entries, potentially millions of them. The cost of loading those entries into the environment each time a user executes the contract would eventually become too expensive were it not for big maps. Big maps are a data structure offered by Michelson which handles the scaling concerns for us. In LIGO, the interface for big maps is analogous to the one used for ordinary maps.

For convenience, we duplicate here the documentation for maps in order to feature big maps, and we point out any relevant differences:

  • The hash of the keys are internally used to access the entries of a big map, so this is advantageous when keys are large.

  • Since big maps are lazily-accessed maps, it makes no sense iterate over them. In particular, there is not equivalent to the function Map.size.

  • Big maps are not packable, as this would assume that they are entirely serialised first.

Big maps are a data structure which associates values of the same type to values of the same type. The former are called key and the latter values. Together they make up a binding. An additional requirement is that the type of the keys must be comparable, in the Michelson sense.

As a consequence, the predefined type big_map has two parameters: the first is the type of the keys, and the second the type of the associated values.

The empty big map is denoted by the predefined value Big_map.empty. A non-empty big map can be built by using the function Big_map.literal which takes a list of pairs of key and values, and returns a big map containing them as bindings, and only them.

type word = string;
type definition = list<string>;
type dictionary = big_map<word, definition>;
const empty_dict: dictionary = Big_map.empty;
const dictionary : dictionary =
Big_map.literal (list([
["one", list(["The number 1.", "A member of a group."])],
["two", list(["The number 2."])]]));

The Big_map.literal predefined function builds a big map from a list of key-value pairs, [<key>, <value>]. Note also the "," to separate individual big map bindings. Note that "<string value>" as address means that we type-cast a string into an address.

Note: Map keys are internally sorted by increasing values, so the type of the keys be comparable, that is, they obey a total order (any two keys can be compared).