Commonly, data that is to be recorded with some associative array has more than one field and not all of the fields are used in determining the placement in the array.
Grouping all the fields and using the aggregate in associative array operations is most often allowed and frequently convenient.
See Sorted Associative Arrays.
There are also times when such grouping hardly qualifies for the best associative array solution. More so when there exist alternatives tailored for the data types of the fields that determine the placement.
Such alternatives define split data operations - typically, data will be split in a comparison/positioning part (the key) and a non comparison/positioning part (the value).
Apart from taking advantage of data type characteristics, reasons for split data solutions include compact and/or regular key storage and search data locality.
Less generic split associative arrays:
|• String Key Pointer Value Arrays:|
|• String Key Variable Size Value Arrays:|