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910. Effects of MoveAssignable

Section: [utility.arg.requirements] Status: NAD Concepts Submitter: Alberto Ganesh Barbati Opened: 2008-09-29 Last modified: 2017-02-03

Priority: Not Prioritized

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Addresses UK 150

The description of the effect of operator= in the MoveAssignable concept, given in paragraph 7 is:

result_type  T::operator=(T&&  rv);  // inherited from HasAssign<T, T&&>

Postconditions: the constructed T object is equivalent to the value of rv before the assignment. [Note: there is no requirement on the value of rv after the assignment. --end note]

The sentence contains a typo (what is the "constructed T object"?) probably due to a cut&paste from MoveConstructible. Moreover, the discussion of LWG issue 675 shows that the postcondition is too generic and might not reflect the user expectations. An implementation of the move assignment that just calls swap() would always fulfill the postcondition as stated, but might have surprising side-effects in case the source rvalue refers to an object that is not going to be immediately destroyed. See LWG issue 900 for another example. Due to the sometimes intangible nature of the "user expectation", it seems difficult to have precise normative wording that could cover all cases without introducing unnecessary restrictions. However a non-normative clarification could be a very helpful warning sign that swapping is not always the correct thing to do.

[ 2009-05-09 Alisdair adds: ]

Issue 910 is exactly the reason BSI advanced the Editorial comment UK-150.

The post-conditions after assignment are at a minimum that the object referenced by rv must be safely destructible, and the transaction should not leak resources. Ideally it should be possible to simply assign rv a new valid state after the call without invoking undefined behaviour, but any other use of the referenced object would depend upon additional guarantees made by that type.

[ 2009-05-09 Howard adds: ]

The intent of the rvalue reference work is that the moved from rv is a valid object. Not one in a singular state. If, for example, the moved from object is a vector, one should be able to do anything on that moved-from vector that you can do with any other vector. However you would first have to query it to find out what its current state is. E.g. it might have capacity, it might not. It might have a non-zero size, it might not. But regardless, you can push_back on to it if you want.

That being said, most standard code is now conceptized. That is, the concepts list the only operations that can be done with templated types - whether or not the values have been moved from.

Here is user-written code which must be allowed to be legal:

#include <vector>
#include <cstdio>

template <class Allocator>
inspect(std::vector<double, Allocator>&& v)
    std::vector<double, Allocator> result(move(v));
    std::printf("moved from vector has %u size and %u capacity\n", v.size(), v.capacity());
    std::printf("The contents of the vector are:\n");
    typedef typename std::vector<double, Allocator>::iterator I;
    for (I i = v.begin(), e = v.end(); i != e; ++i)
        printf("%f\n", *i);

int main()
    std::vector<double> v1(100, 5.5);

The above program does not treat the moved-from vector as singular. It only treats it as a vector with an unknown value.

I believe the current proposed wording is consistent with my view on this.

[ Batavia (2009-05): ]

We agree that the proposed resolution is an improvement over the current wording.

[ 2009-07 Frankfurt: ]

Need to look at again without concepts.

[ 2009-07 Frankfurt: ]

Walter will consult with Dave and Doug.

[ 2009-10 Santa Cruz: ]

We believe this is handled by the resolution to issue 1204, but there is to much going on in this area to be sure. Defer for now.

[ 2010-01-23 Moved to Tentatively NAD Concepts after 5 positive votes on c++std-lib. Rationale added below. ]


The current MoveAssignable requirements say everything that can be said in general. Each std-defined type has a more detailed specification of move assignment.

Proposed resolution:

In [concept.copymove], replace the postcondition in paragraph 7 with:

Postconditions: *this is equivalent to the value of rv before the assignment. [Note: there is no requirement on the value of rv after the assignment, but the effect should be unsurprising to the user even in case rv is not immediately destroyed. This may require that resources previously owned by *this are released instead of transferred to rv. -- end note]