fubo fubo -4 years ago 62
C# Question

Most efficient way to remove duplicates from a List

Let's say I have a List with duplicate values and I want to remove the duplicates.

List<int> myList = new List<int>(Enumerable.Range(0, 10000));

// adding a few duplicates here

I have found 3 approaches to solve this:

List<int> result1 = new HashSet<int>(myList).ToList(); //3700 ticks
List<int> result2 = myList.Distinct().ToList(); //4700 ticks
List<int> result3 = myList.GroupBy(x => x).Select(grp => grp.First()).ToList(); //18800 ticks
//referring to pinturic's comment:
List<int> result4 = new SortedSet<int>(myList).ToList(); //18000 ticks

In most answers here on SO, the Distinct approach is shown as the "correct one", yet the HashSet is always faster!

My question: is there anything I have to be aware of when I use the HashSet approach and is there another more efficient way?

Answer Source

There is a big difference between these two approaches:

List<int> Result1 = new HashSet<int>(myList).ToList(); //3700 ticks
List<int> Result2 = myList.Distinct().ToList(); //4700 ticks

The first one can (will probably) change the order of the elements of the returned List<>: Result1 elements won't be in the same order of myList's ones. The second maintains the original ordering.

There is probably no faster way than the first one.

There is probably no "more correct" (for a certain definition of "correct" based on ordering) than the second one.

(the third one is similar to the second one, only slower)

Just out of curiousity, the Distinct() is:

// Reference source http://referencesource.microsoft.com/#System.Core/System/Linq/Enumerable.cs,712
public static IEnumerable<TSource> Distinct<TSource>(this IEnumerable<TSource> source) {
    if (source == null) throw Error.ArgumentNull("source");
    return DistinctIterator<TSource>(source, null);

// Reference source http://referencesource.microsoft.com/#System.Core/System/Linq/Enumerable.cs,722
static IEnumerable<TSource> DistinctIterator<TSource>(IEnumerable<TSource> source, IEqualityComparer<TSource> comparer) {
    Set<TSource> set = new Set<TSource>(comparer);
    foreach (TSource element in source)
        if (set.Add(element)) yield return element;

So in the end the Distinct() simply uses an internal implementation of an HashSet<> (called Set<>) to check for the uniqueness of items.

For completeness sake, I'll add a link to the question Does C# Distinct() method keep original ordering of sequence intact?

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