Exceptional C++

4 minute read

Title: Exceptional C++ 47 Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solutions

Author: Herb Sutter

Item 1: Iterators

int main()
    vector<Date> e;
    copy( istream_iterator<Date>( cin ), istream_iterator<Date>(), back_inserter( e ));
    vector<Date>::iterator first = find( e.begin(), e.dn(), "01/01/95" );
    vector<Date>::iterator last = find( e.begin(), e.dn(), "12/31/95" );
    *last = "12/31/95";
    copy( first, last, ostream_iterator<Date>( cout, "\n") );
    e.insert( --e.end(), TodaysDate() );
    copy( first, last, ostream_iterator<Date>( cout, "\n") );


vector<Date> e;
copy( istream_iterator<Date>( cin ), istream_iterator<Date>(), back_inserter( e ));
  • No problem
  • As long as Date class implement the extractor function (operator>>(istream&, Date&)), istream_iterator will use this function that reads Date from cin
  • Copy
vector<Date>::iterator first = find( e.begin(), e.end(), "01/01/95" );
vector<Date>::iterator last = find( e.begin(), e.end(), "12/31/95" );
*last = "12/31/95";
  • last: might be e.end() and not deferenc-able
  • find will return the second argument if it cannot find the element
copy( first, last, ostream_iterator<Date>( cout, "\n") );
  • Invalid: because [first, last) might not be a valid range - first after last
  • std::copy requires that the first is before last
e.insert( --e.end(), TodaysDate() );
  • --e.end() - illegal, modifying temporaries of builtin types
    • vector<Date>::iterator: most implementation use pointer to underlying Date* as the implementation of it
    • e.end() is a temporary during an expression and --e.end() will modify the temporary builtin type
        Date* f(); // function that returns a Date*
        p = --f(); // error, because f() is a temporary type
      • Should use e.end() - 1 instead
  • If e is empty then any attempt to insert to the iterator before e.end() is invalid
copy( first, last, ostream_iterator<Date>( cout, "\n") );
  • first and last might not be valid anymore - pointer invalidation
  • The previous the statement before modifies the vector and the pointer might get invalidated due to the vector growing

Item 2: Case-Insensitive Strings - Part 1

  • To implement a case insensitive string (or any custom string), we can easily define a custom traits (or a specialization of char_traits)
  • The custom traits will need to just define the custom eq() lt() compare() find()
      struct ci_char_traits : public char_traits<char>
          static bool eq(char c1, char c2) { return toupper(c1) == toupper(c2); }
          static bool lt(char c1, char c2) { return toupper(c1) < toupper(c2); }
          static int compare(const char* s1, const cahr* s2, size_t n) {...}
          static const char* find(const char* s, int n, char a) {...}
      typedef basic_string<char, ci_char_traits> ci_string
  • Note: for custom comparison traits, you will need to compare transitivity
    • ci_string{"aAa"} == string{"aaa"} and yz_string{"AAa"} == string{"aaa"} does this mean ci_stirng{"aAa"} == yz_string{"AAa"}
  • If the string is just for custom comparison, might be better to define a custom comparison function instead.

Item 3: Case-Insensitive Strings - Part 2

  • Inheriting from type traits (from part 1)
    • Traditionally should model a IS-A / WOKRS-LIKE-A (LSP) - however in this scenario there is no dynamic polymorphism and LSP principle of derived classes being able to satisfy all the requirements of the base class does not work
    • Uses Generic LSP (GLSP): for classes derived of tags and traits class, they just need to confirm to the requirement list of the template argumenet.
      • Requirement List: the requirement for that template arguement

Item 4 and 5: Maximally Reusable Generic

Fixed vector example:

template<typename T, size_t size>
class fixed_vector
    typedef T*          iterator;
    typdef const T*     const_iterator;
    fixed_vector() { }
    template<typename O, size_t osize>
    fixed_vector(const fixed_vector<0, osize>& other)
        copy(other.begin(), other.begin() + min(size, osize), begin());
    template<typename O, size_t osize>
    operator=(const fixed_vector<O, osize>&other)
        coppy(other.begin(), other.begin() + min(size, osize), begin());
        return *this;
  • Templated Constructor:
    • By the standard, they are not a copy constructor and a copy assignment.
    • They are not allowed to suppress the default copy constructor and copy assignment
    • ie: T cant be the X (X is the class type it self)
    • Will participate in overload resolution
  • Why default constructor: any custom defined contructor will not generate the default constructor
  • Exception safety:
    • Given copy assignment could fail when we copy a portion of the element and an exception was thrown
    • Strong Exception safety for assignment requires atomic and nonthrowing Swap() (ie copy and swap)
    • For Generic value type array, there is no way to perform atomic nonthrowing swap
    • Solution: dynamically allocate the array instead of having it as a value member

Item 6: Temporary Objects

Problematic Code

string FindAddr(list<Employee> emps, string name)
    for (auto i = emps.begin(); i != emps.end(); i++)
        if (*i == name) {
            return i->addr;
        return "";
  • Passing by values:
    • Arguments are passed by values -> uneccessary copies
  • i != emps.end():
    • For each iteration we are creatign a sentinel emps.end() iterator -> unnecessary construction and destruction of it
  • Postincrement (i++):
    • Less efficient as it produces an unnecessary “temporary” of the old value
    • To implement a post increment use the canonical form:
        const T T::operator++(int) {
            T old(*this);
            ++*this; // use the preincrement -> unneccassry 
            return old;
    • To allow the compiler to optimise out post increment, define the canonical form of post increment and define it as inline -> compiler will be able to see that there is an uneccessary temporary
  • *i == name: there will be a temporary generated that converts from employee to string or string to employee
    • Would be better to do i->name == name if it is possible
  • Single return path:
    • Alternative:
        string ret;
        ret = i->addr;
        return ret;
    • This creates a temporary ret which will be default constructed
  • Returning a reference:
    • depends on the situation as it can easily lead to dangling references