1319. Containers should require an iterator that is at least a Forward Iterator

Section: 26.2.1 [container.requirements.general] Status: C++11 Submitter: Alisdair Meredith Opened: 2010-02-16 Last modified: 2016-02-10

Priority: Not Prioritized

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Discussion:

The requirements on container iterators are spelled out in 26.2.1 [container.requirements.general], table 91.

Table 91 — Container requirements
Expression Return type Operational semantics Assertion/note
pre-/post-condition
Complexity
...
X::iterator iterator type whose value type is T any iterator category except output iterator. Convertible to X::const_iterator. compile time
X::const_iterator constant iterator type whose value type is T any iterator category except output iterator compile time
...

As input iterators do not have the multi-pass guarantee, they are not suitable for iterating over a container. For example, taking two calls to begin(), incrementing either iterator might invalidate the other. While data structures might be imagined where this behaviour produces interesting and useful results, it is very unlikely to meet the full set of requirements for a standard container.

[ Post-Rapperswil: ]

Daniel notes: I changed the currently suggested P/R slightly, because it is not robust in regard to new fundamental iterator catagories. I recommend to say instead that each container::iterator shall satisfy (and thus may refine) the forward iterator requirements.

Moved to Tentatively Ready with revised wording after 5 positive votes on c++std-lib.

[ Adopted at 2010-11 Batavia ]

Proposed resolution:

  1. Change Table 93 — Container requirements in [container.requirements.general] as indicated:
    Table 93 — Container requirements
    Expression Return type Operational
    semantics
    Assertion/note
    pre-/post-condition
    Complexity
    ...
    X::iterator iterator type
    whose value
    type is T
    any iterator category
    except output iterator
    that meets the forward iterator requirements
    . convertible
    to
    X::const_iterator
    compile time
    X::const_iterator constant iterator type
    whose value
    type is T
    any iterator category
    except output iterator
    that meets the forward iterator requirements
    .
    compile time
    ...