492. Invalid iterator arithmetic expressions

Section: 20.4.1.4 [structure.specifications] Status: NAD Submitter: Thomas Mang Opened: 2004-12-12 Last modified: 2016-02-10

Priority: Not Prioritized

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Discussion:

Various clauses other than clause 25 make use of iterator arithmetic not supported by the iterator category in question. Algorithms in clause 25 are exceptional because of 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9, but this paragraph does not provide semantics to the expression "iterator - n", where n denotes a value of a distance type between iterators.

1) Examples of current wording:

Current wording outside clause 25:

23.2.2.4 [lib.list.ops], paragraphs 19-21: "first + 1", "(i - 1)", "(last - first)" 23.3.1.1 [lib.map.cons], paragraph 4: "last - first" 23.3.2.1 [lib.multimap.cons], paragraph 4: "last - first" 23.3.3.1 [lib.set.cons], paragraph 4: "last - first" 23.3.4.1 [lib.multiset.cons], paragraph 4: "last - first" 24.4.1 [lib.reverse.iterators], paragraph 1: "(i - 1)"

[Important note: The list is not complete, just an illustration. The same issue might well apply to other paragraphs not listed here.]

None of these expressions is valid for the corresponding iterator category.

Current wording in clause 25:

25.1.1 [lib.alg.foreach], paragraph 1: "last - 1" 25.1.3 [lib.alg.find.end], paragraph 2: "[first1, last1 - (last2-first2))" 25.2.8 [lib.alg.unique], paragraph 1: "(i - 1)" 25.2.8 [lib.alg.unique], paragraph 5: "(i - 1)"

However, current wording of 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9 covers neither of these four cases:

Current wording of 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9:

"In the description of the algorithms operator + and - are used for some of the iterator categories for which they do not have to be defined. In these cases the semantics of a+n is the same as that of

{X tmp = a;
advance(tmp, n);
return tmp;
}

and that of b-a is the same as of return distance(a, b)"

This paragrpah does not take the expression "iterator - n" into account, where n denotes a value of a distance type between two iterators [Note: According to current wording, the expression "iterator - n" would be resolved as equivalent to "return distance(n, iterator)"]. Even if the expression "iterator - n" were to be reinterpreted as equivalent to "iterator + -n" [Note: This would imply that "a" and "b" were interpreted implicitly as values of iterator types, and "n" as value of a distance type], then 24.3.4/2 interfers because it says: "Requires: n may be negative only for random access and bidirectional iterators.", and none of the paragraphs quoted above requires the iterators on which the algorithms operate to be of random access or bidirectional category.

2) Description of intended behavior:

For the rest of this Defect Report, it is assumed that the expression "iterator1 + n" and "iterator1 - iterator2" has the semantics as described in current 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9, but applying to all clauses. The expression "iterator1 - n" is equivalent to an result-iterator for which the expression "result-iterator + n" yields an iterator denoting the same position as iterator1 does. The terms "iterator1", "iterator2" and "result-iterator" shall denote the value of an iterator type, and the term "n" shall denote a value of a distance type between two iterators.

All implementations known to the author of this Defect Report comply with these assumptions. No impact on current code is expected.

3) Proposed fixes:

Change 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9 to:

"In the description of the algorithms operator + and - are used for some of the iterator categories for which they do not have to be defined. In this paragraph, a and b denote values of an iterator type, and n denotes a value of a distance type between two iterators. In these cases the semantics of a+n is the same as that of

{X tmp = a;
advance(tmp, n);
return tmp;
}

,the semantics of a-n denotes the value of an iterator i for which the following condition holds: advance(i, n) == a, and that of b-a is the same as of return distance(a, b)".

Comments to the new wording:

a) The wording " In this paragraph, a and b denote values of an iterator type, and n denotes a value of a distance type between two iterators." was added so the expressions "b-a" and "a-n" are distinguished regarding the types of the values on which they operate. b) The wording ",the semantics of a-n denotes the value of an iterator i for which the following condition holds: advance(i, n) == a" was added to cover the expression 'iterator - n'. The wording "advance(i, n) == a" was used to avoid a dependency on the semantics of a+n, as the wording "i + n == a" would have implied. However, such a dependency might well be deserved. c) DR 225 is not considered in the new wording.

Proposed fixes regarding invalid iterator arithmetic expressions outside clause 25:

Either a) Move modified 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9 (as proposed above) before any current invalid iterator arithmetic expression. In that case, the first sentence of 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9, need also to be modified and could read: "For the rest of this International Standard, ...." / "In the description of the following clauses including this ...." / "In the description of the text below ..." etc. - anyways substituting the wording "algorithms", which is a straight reference to clause 25. In that case, 25 [lib.algorithms] paragraph 9 will certainly become obsolete. Alternatively, b) Add an appropiate paragraph similar to resolved 25 [lib.algorithms], paragraph 9, to the beginning of each clause containing invalid iterator arithmetic expressions. Alternatively, c) Fix each paragraph (both current wording and possible resolutions of DRs) containing invalid iterator arithmetic expressions separately.

5) References to other DRs:

See DR 225. See DR 237. The resolution could then also read "Linear in last - first".

[ Bellevue: ]

Keep open and ask Bill to provide wording.

[ 2009-05-09 Alisdair adds: ]

This issue is related to 997.

[ 2009-07 Frankfurt ]

Hinnant: this isn't going to change any user's code or any vendor's implementation.

No objection to "NAD without prejudice." If anyone proposes a resolution, the LWG will consider it.

Move to NAD.

Proposed resolution:

[Lillehammer: Minor issue, but real. We have a blanket statement about this in 25/11. But (a) it should be in 17, not 25; and (b) it's not quite broad enough, because there are some arithmetic expressions it doesn't cover. Bill will provide wording.]