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I love C++ programming language for its power and complexity!! To me, its enormity and complexity has been an incessant source of different features to understand. C++ is still evolving, therefore, I'll have new stuff to learn for quite a while. Many of the C++ features are quite exotic and thats why I am interested in them. On this blog you will find exotic C++ stuff such as core language features, idioms, patterns, C++ emerging standards etc. This is not a beginners blog. You will find here intermediate to advanced level material on C++. I also plan to put new C++ material as I learn it. You might find thoughts presented here already presented somewhere else like popular C++ books, magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs etc. This is becasue I learn from these popular sources. Site Feed URL: http://cpptruths.blogspot.com/atom.xml

WhoamI?
I am not a guru in C++. But I put serious efforts into learning anything remotely related to C++.
More about me: http://www.cs.nmsu.edu/~stambe

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Multi-dimensional arrays in C++11

What new can be said about multi-dimensional arrays in C++? As it turns out, quite a bit! With the advent of C++11, we get new standard library class std::array. We also get new language features, such as template aliases and variadic templates. So I'll talk about interesting ways in which they come together.

It all started with a simple question of how to define a multi-dimensional std::array. It is a great example of deceptively simple things. Are the following the two arrays identical except that one is native and the other one is std::array?

int native[3][4];
std::array<std::array<int, 3>, 4> arr;

No! They are not. In fact, arr is more like an int[4][3]. Note the difference in the array subscripts. The native array is an array of 3 elements where every element is itself an array of 4 integers. 3 rows and 4 columns. If you want a std::array with the same layout, what you really need is:

std::array<std::array<int, 4>, 3> arr;

That's quite annoying for two r…

Covariance and Contravariance in C++ Standard Library

Covariance and Contravariance are concepts that come up often as you go deeper into generic programming. While designing a language that supports parametric polymorphism (e.g., templates in C++, generics in Java, C#), the language designer has a choice between Invariance, Covariance, and Contravariance when dealing with generic types. C++'s choice is "invariance". Let's look at an example.
struct Vehicle {}; struct Car : Vehicle {}; std::vector<Vehicle *> vehicles; std::vector<Car *> cars; vehicles = cars; // Does not compile The above program does not compile because C++ templates are invariant. Of course, each time a C++ template is instantiated, the compiler creates a brand new type that uniquely represents that instantiation. Any other type to the same template creates another unique type that has nothing to do with the earlier one. Any two unrelated user-defined types in C++ can't be assigned to each-other by default. You have to provide a c…

Want speed? Use constexpr meta-programming!

It's official: C++11 has two meta-programming languages embedded in it! One is based on templates and other one using constexpr. Templates have been extensively used for meta-programming in C++03. C++11 now gives you one more option of writing compile-time meta-programs using constexpr. The capabilities differ, however.

The meta-programming language that uses templates was discovered accidently and since then countless techniques have been developed. It is a pure functional language which allows you to manipulate compile-time integral literals and types but not floating point literals. Most people find the syntax of template meta-programming quite abominable because meta-functions must be implemented as structures and nested typedefs. Compile-time performance is also a pain point for this language feature.

The generalized constant expressions (constexpr for short) feature allows C++11 compiler to peek into the implementation of a function (even classes) and perform optimizations i…