Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library, 1st edition

  • Scott Meyers

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“This is Effective C++ volume three – it’s really that good.”
– Herb Sutter, independent consultant and secretary of the ISO/ANSI C++ standards committee
“There are very few books which all C++ programmers must have. Add Effective STL to that list.”
– Thomas Becker, Senior Software Engineer, Zephyr Associates, Inc., and columnist, C/C++ Users Journal

C++’s Standard Template Library is revolutionary, but learning to use it well has always been a challenge. Until now. In this book, best-selling author Scott Meyers (Effective C++, and More Effective C++) reveals the critical rules of thumb employed by the experts – the things they almost always do or almost always avoid doing – to get the most out of the library.

Other books describe what’s in the STL. Effective STL shows you how to use it. Each of the book’s 50 guidelines is backed by Meyers’ legendary analysis and incisive examples, so you’ll learn not only what to do, but also when to do it – and why.

Highlights of Effective STL include:

  • Advice on choosing among standard STL containers (like vector and list), nonstandard STL containers (like hash_set and hash_map), and non-STL containers (like bitset).
  • Techniques to maximize the efficiency of the STL and the programs that use it.
  • Insights into the behavior of iterators, function objects, and allocators, including things you should not do.
  • Guidance for the proper use of algorithms and member functions whose names are the same (e.g., find), but whose actions differ in subtle (but important) ways.
  • Discussions of potential portability problems, including straightforward ways to avoid them.

Like Meyers’ previous books, Effective STL is filled with proven wisdom that comes only from experience. Its clear, concise, penetrating style makes it an essential resource for every STL programmer.

Table of contents

Preface  xi

Acknowledgments  xv

Introduction  1

Chapter 1: Containers  11

Item 1: Choose your containers with care.  11

Item 2: Beware the illusion of container-independent code.  15

Item 3: Make copying cheap and correct for objects in containers.  20

Item 4: Call empty instead of checking size() against zero.  23

Item 5: Prefer range member functions to their single-element counterparts.  24

Item 6: Be alert for C++’s most vexing parse.  33

Item 7: When using containers of newed pointers, remember to delete the pointers before the container is destroyed.  36

Item 8: Never create containers of auto_ptrs.  40

Item 9: Choose carefully among erasing options.  43

Item 10: Be aware of allocator conventions and restrictions.  48

Item 11: Understand the legitimate uses of custom allocators.  54

Item 12: Have realistic expectations about the thread safety of STL containers.  58

Chapter 2: vector and string  63

Item 13: Prefer vector and string to dynamically allocated arrays.  63

Item 14: Use reserve to avoid unnecessary reallocations.  66

Item 15: Be aware of variations in string implementations.  68

Item 16: Know how to pass vector and string data to legacy APIs.  74

Item 17: Use “the swap trick” to trim excess capacity.  77

Item 18: Avoid using vector<bool>.  79

Chapter 3: Associative Containers  83

Item 19: Understand the difference between equality and equivalence.  83

Item 20: Specify comparison types for associative containers of pointers. 88

Item 21: Always have comparison functions return false for equal values.  92

Item 22: Avoid in-place key modification in set and multiset.  95

Item 23: Consider replacing associative containers with sorted vectors.  100

Item 24: Choose carefully between map::operator[] and map::insert when efficiency is important.   106

Item 25: Familiarize yourself with the nonstandard hashed containers.  111

Chapter 4: Iterators  116

Item 26: Prefer iterator to const_iterator, reverse_iterator, and const_reverse_iterator.  116

Item 27: Use distance and advance to convert const_iterators to iterators.   120

Item 28: Understand how to use a reverse_iterator’s base iterator.  123

Item 29: Consider istreambuf_iterators for character by character input.  126

Chapter 5: Algorithms  128

Item 30: Make sure destination ranges are big enough.  129

Item 31: Know your sorting options.  133

Item 32: Follow remove-like algorithms by erase if you really want to remove something.  139

Item 33: Be wary of remove-like algorithms on containers of pointers.  143

Item 34: Note which algorithms expect sorted ranges.  146

Item 35: Implement simple case-insensitive string comparisons via mismatch or lexicographical_compare.  150

Item 36: Understand the proper implementation of copy_if.  154

Item 37: Use accumulate or for_each to summarize ranges.  156

Chapter 6: Functors, Functor Classes, Functions, etc.  162

Item 38: Design functor classes for pass-by-value.  162

Item 39: Make predicates pure functions.  166

Item 40: Make functor classes adaptable.  169

Item 41: Understand the reasons for ptr_fun, mem_fun, and mem_fun_ref.  173

Item 42: Make sure less<T> means operator<.  177

Chapter 7: Programming with the STL  181

Item 43: Prefer algorithm calls to hand-written loops.  181

Item 44: Prefer member functions to algorithms with the same names.  190

Item 45: Distinguish among count, find, binary_search, lower_bound, upper_bound, and equal_range.  192

Item 46: Consider function objects instead of functions as algorithm parameters.  201

Item 47: Avoid producing write-only code.  206

Item 48: Always #include the proper headers.  209

Item 49: Learn to decipher STL-related compiler diagnostics.  210

Item 50: Familiarize yourself with STL-related web sites.  217

Bibliography  225

Appendix A: Locales and Case-Insensitive String Comparisons  229

Appendix B: Remarks on Microsoft’s STL Platforms  239

Index  245

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Published by Addison-Wesley Professional (June 6th 2001) - Copyright © 2001